to plough £67m into gigabit broadband for all and sundry

Handouts from March but you're on your own for line rental fees

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The UK government has unveiled its £67m broadband voucher scheme, flinging £3,000 at SMEs to set up gigabit connections and handing £500 ones to regular folk*. After that users have to stump up the rest in ongoing rental fees.

The Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) will start dishing out the subsidies from the end of March.

The model is similar to that of the £100m broadband connection voucher scheme for speeds of more than 30Mbps in 2013-15, which was re-scoped after small businesses initially failed to take it up.

Last year the government piloted the scheme in four areas using £10m from the investment pot, giving out a total of 1,000 vouchers to SMEs.

The initiative is a sign that government is finally committing to improving Blighty's woeful full-fibre connectivity.

Earlier this week Chancellor Phillip Hammond unveiled the allocation of £95m in funding in the Spring Statement to local bodies aiming to boost existing fibre broadband, under the £200m Local Full Fibre Networks programme.

Some 13 areas were named as having successfully won bids for the cash pot, under various proposals including the use of hospitals, health centres and GP surgeries as "anchor tenants".

Hammond said the voucher scheme will enable "faster, more reliable broadband access as we build the digital infrastructure we need to make our economy fit for the future".

Culture secretary Matt Hancock said: "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."

Registration for new suppliers will open before the launch of the scheme at the end of March. The scheme will be open until March 2021 or until all available funding has been allocated. ®

* "The only way residents can benefit from the voucher scheme is as part of a local community group scheme, which must also include small businesses", apparently.


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