£67m boost for a Full Fibre future

Tens of thousands of businesses and homes across the UK are set to benefit from a £67 million (€75.9m) investment in faster Internet connections, the Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced.

The Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) will provide vouchers worth up to £3000 for a small or medium sized business or £500 to residents to help with the costs of connecting to full fibre broadband.

The scheme is part of a wider government plan to get more homes and businesses connected to full fibre broadband. It builds on the £200 million Local Full Fibre Networks programme which gives funding to local areas to boost full fibre delivery. £95 million of this funding was allocated at Spring Statement to 13 successful bidders across the UK.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: “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.”

DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock said: “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.”

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 per cent of UK premises have access to a full fibre connection.

The scheme forms part of the Government’s commitment to make full fibre broadband available to at least 10 million homes and businesses by 2022. Over the past 18 months, the government has taken significant steps to support the commercial roll out of full-fibre broadband, including:

  • Establishing the £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund.
  • The launch of the £200 million Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme – providing targeted funding to stimulate demand and prove commercial models.
  • Introducing 5-Year business rates relief for new fibre.
  • Creation of the Barrier Busting Taskforce who are working closely with local authorities and suppliers on removing obstacles that are preventing the widespread commercial deployment of full fibre connectivity.

This next generation of connectivity will help the country to remain productive and competitive over the long-term, creating a Britain fit for the future, and enabling businesses to create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK. Through its Industrial Strategy, the Government is continually driving the UK’s connectivity, telecommunications and digital sectors, and investing in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future. Registration for new suppliers will open before the launch of the scheme at the end of March 2018. The scheme will be open until March 2021 or until all available funding has been allocated.

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