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The UK Gigabit Voucher Scheme is returning on April 8th, 2021 to support small businesses in rural areas.
The Scheme or ‘Project Gigabit’ voucher is worth up to £3,500 for small rural businesses to help them cover the cost of installing gigabit broadband.
From Thursday April 8th, the next round of the scheme will open and from this date you will be able to check if your workplace premises are eligible for the vouchers. You will also be able to find a list of suppliers and see which of these suppliers are active in your area. There is a stipulation that the vouchers are only available through the registered suppliers.
Will my business be eligible for Gigabit Voucher?
All businesses applying will be asked to self-certify that they are a small or a medium-sized business.
This means that your business must have:
- Up to 249 employees and annual turnover no greater than £36m and/or
- An annual balance sheet not exceeding £18m.
You will need to provide evidence of your status so if you want to go ahead and apply, you will need to have your paperwork to hand.
So, what’s a gigabit connection?
One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits and to get broadband at gigabit speeds, you need a full-fibre connection.
How does the Gigabit Voucher scheme work?
Once you have registered with an approved supplier, they will request a voucher from the Government.
You will then get an email asking if you are happy to proceed. If you agree, your supplier will get to work delivering your new connection. Once completed, the supplier will follow up with you by email to check that the connection is functioning correctly.
Is this a new scheme?
No, the first voucher was launched in March 2018 to encourage broadband service providers to build full-fibre networks in the UK for small to medium-sized businesses. The £67m fund was successfully used over two years.
In May 2019, the programme launched its second wave of funding to support the cost of installing gigabit broadband to homes and businesses in rural areas of the UK when part of a local group. As of August 2020, over 12,000 rural vouchers have been issued with a value of £23.3 million.
The Government press release states that up to 510,000 homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the first to benefit as part of ‘Project Gigabit’.
As a rural business ourselves, we are delighted to see this voucher scheme back in action.