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National Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to kick-start a full fibre future

9 April 2018

Hundreds of businesses and residents across Essex can now access an ultrafast boost in their broadband connection with the help of a new scheme launched nationally by UK Government.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is investing £67m in the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to provide businesses and residential communities around them with future-proof full fibre connections which are faster, more reliable and cheaper to operate than traditional copper lines, and are capable of supporting not only gigabit, but terabit and even petabit speeds*, which will serve the UK far into the future.

The vouchers, worth up to £3,000 for a small or medium business and £500 for a resident, provide a one-off contribution to subsidise the installation cost of gigabit-capable infrastructure (able to support speeds of at least 1Gbps or 1000Mbps). The scheme will be supplier-led, meaning residents or businesses will need to approach a supplier and the supplier will request a voucher from the UK Government.

The scheme can provide a boost to most small or medium-sized businesses in Essex, whether they can already access superfast speeds or not.   Residential premises can also benefit by taking part in a business-led local community group scheme. 

Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Skills, Infrastructure and Digital Economy, said: “This is great news for the Essex economy. Full fibre connections are the future. The Superfast Essex programme is continuing to extend superfast broadband coverage countywide and remains committed to doing so. This Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme will help to further enhance opportunities for businesses and residents to benefit in the digital world.”

This latest investment is in addition to the £200m UK Government has allocated to the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme and part of UK Government’s commitment to make full fibre broadband available to at least 10 million homes and businesses by 2022. Currently only around 3% of UK premises have access to a full fibre connection.

DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy and now they can turbo-charge their connectivity with gigabit speeds. By building a full fibre future for Britain we are laying the foundations for a digital infrastructure capable of delivering today what the next generation will need tomorrow.”

A successful pilot scheme launched in 4 areas around the country late last year has already seen nearly 1000 vouchers snapped up to date.

The scheme will run until March 2021 or until all available funding has been allocated. For more information and to apply visit www.superfastessex.org/gigabitvoucher.

The Superfast Essex programme has so far enabled more than 106,000 homes and businesses to access superfast broadband with the help of network operator’s Openreach and Gigaclear. To check the broadband status for your address, visit www.superfastessex.org/maps.