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Better Broadband (USC) voucher reminder
Monday 21 November 2016 11:20:45 by Andrew Ferguson

The number of premises with less than the basic broadband speed of 2 Mbps should be dropping if people are taking advantage of the vouchers, so we thought a quick remember that vouchers are available to cover the initial installation of a solution to improve your connectivity. The current estimate based on fixed line services is that some 230,000 premises sit in the sub 2 Mbps area (0.79% of UK premises).

Many may have seen the voucher scheme and the initial satellite broadband services and decided its not for them, but many of the schemes support multiple technologies such as fixed wireless and 4G, and we've covered a couple of instances where groups have clubbed together to solve the problem for a number of properties.

Our postcode search flags up the USC voucher website for the appropriate broadband project when your postcode is believed to be sub 2 Mbps, and also mentions a growing number of the fixed wireless projects.

As 4G coverage continues to improve it is becoming a much better solution than satellite broadband due to the lower latency that is much more like a fixed line solution than the 800ms of a two way satellite connection. Operators like Mastband can install a solution with a small external antenna and a 4G router under the voucher scheme with an up to 60 Mbps 16GB monthly allowance starting at £23/m (up to 90 Mbps 32GB £29/m, 50GB £50/m, 100GB £75/m). Beyond putting the antenna outside all the modern insulation homes contain, it features MiMO thus allowing access to multiple data streams and thus can potentially offer speeds higher than usual run of the mill 4G devices.

4G may also be a solution for those keen for more speed who sit in that broad range of better than 2 Mbps but still sub superfast, and if 4G EE is available they have their 4G Home service with 10GB for £25/m, 50GB for £50/m and 100GB for £75/m and no upfront cost. For the more adventurous you can of course roll your own, by buying your own hardware e.g. 4G router and antenna. With unlocked hardware this also gives you a choice of networks and doing clever stuff like load balancing.

The one trade off with using 4G is that data allowances are generally small, of course if coming from a sub 2 Mbps you are not used to using much data each month due to slow page load times, and the hours it takes to download one episode of a BBC Three show on iPlayer, but ask anyone who has gone from slow to fast and their data usage grows rapidly, as you start to watch more streamed TV and films, download software updates at home rather than driving to a café with decent Wi-Fi.

A parting thought, for broadband solutions that involve some public funding is access to an affordable unlimited option more important than wholesale options?

Comments

Posted by bluemoon87 15 days ago
Something that I have also noticed recently is the ability to use Vouchers with BT's Community Partnership. http://basicbroadbandchecker.culture.gov.uk/faqs-better-broadband-subsidy-scheme.pdf Section 11 states
"11. Can the subsidy be used to support fibre broadband?
One of the suppliers offering services through the scheme is BT, via its Community Fibre
Partnerships scheme."
Posted by New_Londoner 15 days ago
@Andrew
Apart from CDS, have any counties opted out if the BDUK voucher scheme? Any idea why CDS decided to go with its own, far less flexible approach?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 15 days ago
On CDS no idea, perhaps they intend phase II to deliver 100% superfast so vouchers would be a very short term fix.
Posted by WWWombat 9 days ago
A reminder that CDS' voucher scheme finishes on 30th November. That's the last day for applications rather than installations.
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