Government has pledged £67 million towards investing in full fibre broadband connections through the Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS). Vouchers worth up to £3000 for small and medium sized businesses or £500 for residents will be issued to help bring down the costs of getting gigabit connections.
The scheme forms part of the £200 million Local Full Fibre Networks program – of which £95 million was this week awarded to 13 bidders across the UK.
For residents to be able to qualify for a voucher, a local community group – comprising small businesses as well as residents – must be formed. Vouchers may be pooled in this group although the value of business vouchers would have to exceed the residential total value. This pooling approach can relieve some of the costs where the cost of installation is greater than the voucher issued.
The market trial of the scheme which was running across four areas of the UK saw around 1000 vouchers dispensed to small businesses. The extension of the scheme is expected to go live the end of March and run until March 2021 (providing that funding remains).
Whilst the voucher scheme has been generally very well received, it should be noted that in order to deliver maximum benefits, measures should be in place to ensure that residents and SME’s alike are made aware of its existence. It would appear that Government has learned the lessons of the previous vouchers and sought to structure the scheme to incentivise additional investment in full fibre; done right, these vouchers should make a good contribution towards the Government’s goal of having full fibre available to at least 10 million homes and businesses by 2022.