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The Government has announced a new push to provide fast broadband into rural, and other areas where internet access currently falls far short of business needs.

The new Voucher scheme is being funded by the government to the tune of £210 million, and will enable businesses to claim up to £3500.00 towards the cost of faster broadband. A further £110 million will earmarked for rural GP Surgeries, Schools and Libraries.

Applications can be made from April 2021, however work will not commence in the new areas until 2022. The targeted areas for the latest scheme are:

Cambridgeshire
Cornwall
Cumbria
Dorset
Durham
Essex
Northumberland
South Tyneside
Tees Valley 

In June, the Governement is expected to annouce the next areas to be:

Norfolk
Shropshire
Suffolk
Worcestershire
Hampshire
Isle of Wight

Who is eligible?

Businesses in rural locations which meet the following criteria can use vouchers to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections when part of a group project: 

  • Existing broadband speeds are less than 100Mbps
  • A gigabit capable network isn’t likely to be built to that area commercially in the near future  
  • There is no government-funded contract planned or in place to improve the network already

Your new connection speed must reach: 

  • At least double your existing speed if your current speed is less than 50Mbps 
  • At least 100Mbps if your current speed is more than 50Mbps 

‘Rural’ is defined using agreed standard measures in the relevant part of the UK.

In order to qualify for a business voucher you will be asked to self-certify that you are an Small or Medium size Enterprise (SME), as defined by sections 465 to 467 of the Companies Act 2006 which can be summarised as:

  • Up to 249 employees and annual turnover no greater than £36 million; and/or
  • An annual balance sheet total not exceeding £18 million.

You will be asked to provide evidence of your status as a SME or sole trader.

You will also have to self-certify that the organisation will have received less than 325,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in public grants over any period of three fiscal years including the current year, including the voucher contribution. 

The Special Drawing Rights amount has replaced the €200,000 de minimis grant limit following the UK’s exit from the European Union on the 31st December 2020. The SDR to GBP exchange rate can be found here (https://www.imf.org/external/np/fin/data/rms_sdrv.aspx).

Not-for-profit and charitable undertakings which qualify as SMEs are eligible in the same way that for-profit enterprises are.

Talk to one of our team to find out how Ocean Telecom can help your business achieve broadband higher speeds.