31 July 2019

What Is The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme?

In March 2018, the UK Government announced the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme for UK businesses and set aside £67m in order to support the scheme. As part of the Government’s wider “Local Full Fibre Network Programme”, the Gigabit Voucher Scheme is tasked with helping the UK meet its objective of making the UK a fully fibre nation.

Small businesses the length and breadth of the UK can now apply for a voucher of up to £2,500 from the Gigabit Voucher Scheme to cover the cost of installing a fibre connection at their place of business.

It is also important to note:

  • Local communities can club together to avail of the voucher scheme.
  • Businesses in rural areas may be eligible for additional funding.
  • Businesses in Wales may also apply to their own local government for a top up to the scheme.
  • Private residents may be able to apply for a voucher of up to £500 for a gigabit capable connection at their home.

What Is A Gigabit Connection?

Whilst the UK currently has around 95% coverage for what is known as ‘super fast broadband’ with speeds up to 24Mbps (Mega bits per second) this is unfortunately being achieved mainly through traditional copper wire networks. For a lot of people this might be enough to watch a bit of Youtube or Netflix, however, for businesses to avail of advanced technologies which could help them to be more efficient or bring new services to market, they need access to faster broadband connections.

cloud-servicesUnfortunately, traditional copper lines are limited in the speeds with which they can transfer data and a fibre optic connection is therefore required in order to achieve a real (and reliable) increase in the speeds possible. Up until now some businesses have been using what is commonly known as FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) to boost speeds although the obvious downside of this is that the last step from the cabinet to their premises is still using copper wire and will therefore suffer from an obvious slow down in data speeds.

The only way around this is to lay fibre optic cable from the network cabinet to a businesses premises. Whilst there will obviously be a cost to install a connection such as this, the upside is that once it has been completed and the business has a “full fibre connection” they will be able to avail of speeds of up to 1 Gigabit (1,000 Mbps) which is a huge increase over the speeds already being achieved across the UK. Hence the term a “Gigabit Connection” as 1 Gigabit of data will be able to be transferred across it in just one second.

Full fibre will also bring the additional benefit of the connection being symmetrical, meaning that both upload and download speeds can be the same. So no more time wasted when trying to upload a large file and sending it across the network.

Why Do Businesses Need Fibre Broadband Or A Leased Line?

Apart from the obvious benefits in speed when uploading or downloading files, a full fibre connection will have a much larger capacity meaning that multiple users with high data needs will all be able to use the connection at the same time without interruption or a slow down in speeds. The distance a business is from its local network cabinet will also no longer have an impact on speeds either.

A Gigabit connection will allow the homes and businesses of the future to will be much better served with streaming-on-demand, cloud-based services, 5G and smart building technology to name but a few advances in technology.

Research would indicate that access to faster broadband speeds will bring a real boost to the UK economy and help UK companies to remain competitive on the global stage. Unfortunately, a recent report from Cable.co.uk has shown the UK to be in 34th position in the world with average broadband speeds of 22.37Mbps during 2018 which is a long way behind countries such as Taiwan (85.02Mbps); Singapore (70.86Mbps) and Jersey (67.46Mbps). Even in terms of Europe, the UK is well behind two thirds of the other countries in Europe.

One of the reasons for the UK’s lower ranking in this report on average broadband speeds is due to the slower adoption of fibre to the premises (FTTP). With access to fast internet access being a key driver for a nation’s future competitiveness it is imperative that the UK moves quickly to become a fully fibre nation.

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How Do You Apply?

To be eligible for A Gigabit Voucher the business premises must be in the UK and the business classed an SME under the current EU definition of an SME. This is typically determined as a company having less than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than €50m, however, it is up to the company to self-certify that it meets the requirements. The business must also not be a subsidiary of (or under the control of) a larger business and they must not have exceeded specific levels of EU aid in the last few years.

Lastly, the new connection must achieve a step-change in terms of the connection. Essentially, this step change will be evidenced by the following:

      1. The connection will deliver a minimum of 100Mbps to the business premises and at least double the existing speeds being achieved.
      2. The connection will be capable of delivering broadband connectivity at or above 1Gbps (upload or download) at the time of delivery to the premises (and not through the use of additional hardware or software).
      3. There cannot be any existing connection at the premises already capable of 1Gbps or above.

What To Do Next

If you think your business could benefit from a fibre connection with Gigabit capacity, please get in touch and one of our business advisors will talk you through the benefits and how to apply for a Gigabit Broadband Voucher. The process is relatively simple and once you decide to proceed is quite straight forward and relatively quick.

In the first instance, please complete the form below and we will be in touch, or alternatively, if during business hours please contact our Live Chat

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