Gigabit-capable broadband provides the fastest and most reliable speeds available, and the government is committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain.
The Government have announced a £5bn programme called Project Gigabit to connect rural homes across the country. This work is scheduled to begin in Autumn 2022. However, if you want to speed up the roll out to your area there is financial support available. As part of the Government's Gigabit Voucher programme, businesses and residents in some of the UK's hardest-to-reach rural areas are eligible for funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband connections when they form a group project.
Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps can use vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each small and medium-sized business (SME), and up to £1,500 for each residential premises to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections.
Group projects involve two or more residents and/or SMEs getting together to combine their vouchers towards the shared cost of installation. Single connections are not eligible.
This is a central government scheme run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), however SFSY are keen to support in whatever way we can to make sure that South Yorkshire residents and businesses take advantage of the opportunity – for example, facilitating meetings or conference calls.
There are a few factors which determine eligibility for the scheme.
Your property must be classified as rural (England & Wales DeFRA definition categories D1 through F2), and you can find this out by entering your postcode in the scheme's postcode checker. If your postcode is classified is rural, the response will include the additional text highlighted in the example screenshot below.
Additionally, your property must not already be able to receive a service which provide broadband speeds of 100Mbps or greater. The Ofcom broadband availability checker can show you which services are currently available.
The connection you plan to take up with your chosen supplier must be gigabit-capable. This does not mean you will need to pay for a 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) package, just that the technology used must be capable of delivering such speeds, so that the connection is future-proof.
The package you choose must deliver speeds which are double your current available speeds, and at least 30Mbps.
The process is supplier-led, meaning that they complete the application process and are reimbursed the voucher amount, rather than you having to handle the application yourself.
You will also need to find likeminded members of your community to join the group project. Contacting parish councils and posting in local Facebook groups are good ways to generate interest, and SFSY are happy to help by attending meetings or facilitating conference calls as needed.
The Rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher Process
The below infographic outlines the steps which follow once a group project of interested, eligible properties has been formed.