Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman has said that only through "collaboration at a local and national level" can the UK achieve the government's ambitions to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband speeds available. To that end, a funding boost announced today means that 250,000 premises in England are eligible for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, as seventeen local councils provide £22.2 million to top-up the values of the vouchers in their areas.
The Scheme, launched in May 2019, targets areas where the cost of building new gigabit broadband infrastructure is not as commercially viable through vouchers worth up to £3,500 for small and medium sized businesses and up to £1,500 for residential premises towards operator costs. Nearly 45,000 gigabit broadband vouchers, worth more than £90 million, have already been issued and there is more than £70 million worth of vouchers on offer immediately.
The local authorities that have provided funding for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme include the Borderlands, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, County Durham, Derbyshire, Dorset, East Riding of Yorkshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Sussex and Worcestershire. The supplier-led scheme provides internet download speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
There has been good progress so far in the drive to UK gigabit capable coverage (by a 2025 target date), despite enduring barriers to bust. Ofcom's interim Connected Nations report has found that full-fibre broadband is now available to 14% of UK homes, with Ultrafast broadband at 57%. The government has also promised £5 billion to ensure hard-to-reach areas get access to gigabit connections over the next few years, with further details on the Outside In programme expected in the autumn. Industry investment is also driving rollout, and 8 million premises can now access gigabit capable broadband compared to around 1.4 million premises two years ago.
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techUK's Communications Infrastructure Programe works to enhance the deployment of fibre and 5G networks through its Fibre Driving and Infrastructure Sharing Working Group which engages and collaborates with local authorities through collaborating with techUK’s Local Government Programme.