Gigabit internet access for the UK
Back in September, the UK Government unveiled a boost to its Gigabit voucher scheme. As part of their Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme to enable businesses and households in rural areas access high quality, superfast broadband through the supplier-led scheme.
The RGC vouchers offer up to £3,500 for small businesses and up to £1,500 for residents. The greater size of the vouchers reflects the higher cost of deployment in such areas. More importantly, the new scheme does NOT include a business requirement unlike the existing Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme GBVS (i.e. homes can easily get a voucher), but like GBVS it will still be possible to aggregate the vouchers in order to help tackle larger deployments.
The Government has been eager to encourage both consumers and suppliers to take up the scheme in order to ensure the UK extensive gigabyte broadband coverage. In the roadmap, published on the Government’s website, they said “it is working with industry to
target a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025. This is a key part of our £5 billion
gigabit programme and its 100% target.”
While the current phase of vouchers and rollouts are coming to an end. The Government intends to have this phase of upgraded infrastructure completed by March. They are also seeking consultation from industry leaders on how to best extend the GBVS scheme.
However, many have criticised the Government for being in danger of not reaching the 85% target promised. Approximately eight million homes have access to some sort of gigabit broadband services but the majority of these are located in urban areas.
One in four, or about 8m, homes in Britain have access to a ‘gigabit’ broadband service. But these are mostly in urban locations. In contrast, about 20% of homes in rural areas still cannot access so-called ‘superfast’ speeds of at least 30 Mbps. This is according to Ofcom, the telecoms regulator.