National Gigabit full fibre voucher scheme is go
The gold standard of broadband that is full fibre (FTTP/FTTH) is something the Government is very keen to encourage and after a market trial that saw around 1,000 vouchers used across four areas of the UK a National Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) with a pot of £67 million available for vouchers has been announced by HM Treasury .
We’re backing Britain’s small businesses by investing £67 million to bring full-fibre broadband to more businesses up and down the country.
This means faster, more reliable broadband access as we build the digital infrastructure we need to make our economy fit for the future.Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond
Vouchers of up to £3,000 will be available to small and medium sized firms to contribute to the connection costs of a full fibre connection, if the connection cost is less than £3,000 the voucher will obviously be of a smaller value. Only connections from participating suppliers will be eligible for vouchers and the service must be at a minimum speed of 100 Mbps, and those with an existing slower full fibre service are not able to use the vouchers to pay for a speed upgrade. So while the scheme is headlined as a Gigabit scheme the key is that the connection must be full fibre and thus capable of Gigabit and beyond in the future.
Before everyone rushes off to the scheme website at https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/ the list of suppliers is going to be a bit sparse but new suppliers can register before the start of the scheme at the end of March 2018 and the scheme will remain open until March 2021 or the money available runs out (fingers crossed if it is popular extra money will be added to the pot).
Update 9am: The website for the voucher scheme is currently still showing the old four market trial areas and therefore we hope that an updated site will appear shortly to particularly encourage regional full fibre operators that are outside the original market trial areas to register and also avoid business owners getting confused.
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.DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock
Native full fibre connectivity is running at just 3.54% in the UK, but for full fibre business broadband so long as a company is willing to pay the higher install costs full fibre is usually available from a variety of networks and while these dedicated business connections may carry a lot higher monthly costs they will include bandwidth guarantees and service level agreements that set them apart from your run of the mill full fibre consumer/SME connection.
Consumers can apply for vouchers with a value of up to £500, but only as part of a larger group which includes small business users too. The ability to pool vouchers to pay the connection costs means that community group schemes are possible, but with the rule that the total value of the vouchers from the businesses involved must be higher than the residential vouchers means the pooling is probably not going to work for housing estates.
Press releases can sometimes be a bit cold, but there is some humour in the release..."Full fibre connections 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. Currently only around 3% of UK premises have access to a full fibre connection.". We look forward to the day when Petabit connectivity is something we need to worry about (1 Petabit = 1,000,000 Giga bits per second the peak at LINX in London which is one of the major data exchange points currently peaks in the 4,000 Gbps to 5,000 Gbps region i.e. 4 to 5 Tera bits per second).
We fully support the formation of a National Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Hyperoptic will absolutely be joining the programme. We have already had great success with local schemes - we are the leading provider in the Connect Westminster Scheme via number of vouchers issued. Gigabit connectivity revolutionises the way a business can operate and allowing residents to become part of the scheme will expedite the deployment of full fibre networks to even more of the UK. We are convinced that strategic application of Connection Voucher Schemes that encourage businesses and residents to opt for full fibre not only helps encourage and facilitate the rollout of full fibre more than large projects of simply putting fibre in the ground, it also supports the output of our digital economy.Floyd Widener, Chief Sales Officer, Hyperoptic
It’s great news that the voucher scheme is being extended. The scheme helps improve the investment case for new digital infrastructure and speeds up the UK’s shift towards a full fibre and 5G future.Malcolm Corbett, Chief Exec of INCA
A footnote on when we talk about native full fibre we are referring to premises where Hyperoptic, Openreach, KCom, Gigaclear and others have installed fibre connectivity to the boundary or final drop point outside the premises, metro fibre networks are not counted as native full fibre, so the metro networks CityFibre has in various cities does not count to the 3.54%, but the TalKTalk UFO footprint in York does because they satisfy the final drop requirement. In Openreach terms the Fibre on Demand FTTP product is NOT native FTTP but the GEA-FTTP service is a native product.
If firms that sell the Openreach Fibre on Demand (FoD) service are on the list of voucher suppliers then the FoD service will qualify but with a limit of 20 orders per month from Openreach it is clear that until Openreach has lots more staff used to installed full fibre kit that the FoD service is not going to be major user of the vouchers. Also as a business if you have slow broadband due to being a couple of kilometres from the active VDSL2 cabinet a £3,000 voucher is only going to make a small dent in the cost of Fibre on Demand if ordering on your own.
Correction 9am: Unfortunately the wrong quote was copy and pasted for Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond when the original item was published at 00:01, this has now been corrected with the correct quote.
We expect more operators to express interest and supply quotes during the day.
What we achieved during the pilot sets a blueprint for the rest of the country as the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is rolled out nationwide. The £67 million investment announced today is a very welcome move, and a catalyst that will enable hundreds of millions of pounds of private money to be invested across the country. It provides a cost-effective way for the Government to support privately funded full fibre infrastructure providers in their efforts to connect the digitally left behind. This is a vital building block in the creation of a nationwide digital economy that will help the country to thriveTrueSpeed CEO Evan Wienburg
ISPA welcomes the roll out of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) at a national level, and is greatly encouraged by the Government’s commitment to encouraging ultrafast infrastructure deployment. ISPA members have been instrumental in the proliferation of fibre connections in the UK, and many have had success with existing voucher schemes in local areas.
Widening the scope of the scheme is a welcome step towards future-proofing the UK’s digital infrastructure and reaching the Government’s target of 10m premises with access to full fibre broadband by 2022.ISPA Statement on Gigabit voucher scheme
A statement from WarwickNet added at 5:30pm, apparently WarwickNet accounted for 67% of the vouchers issued in the Coventry and Warwickshire market trial.
There were no guarantees this scheme would roll-out to more areas or so we’re absolutely delighted it will be. Our strong partnerships with customers and detailed knowledge of their infrastructure and business needs puts us in an ideal place to promote the value of this scheme to both them and businesses generally. We’ve proven our commitment to full-fibre provision by issuing the majority of vouchers in our pilot area.
Now businesses around the UK will benefit from our rapid deployment of full-fibre connections and hands-on customer support. As we invest in our own high-speed infrastructure, we’re not beholden to the constraints of just the Openreach network like some providers are. This is our advantage and ultimately why we are performing as efficiently and effectively as we do.James Warner, Director of Sales and Marketing at WarwickNet