Rural homes and businesses across England have been given access to further funding to enable them to access ultrafast broadband.
The extra £22 million is being invested into the UK government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which subsidises the costs of building gigabit-capable broadband networks in remote areas.
Gigabit-capable broadband enables internet download speeds of up to 1,000Mbps - enough sasy the Government to download a HD film in less than 30 seconds and lay the foundations for 8K-quality video streaming.
The extra funding comes after the coronavirus pandemic made it ever more important for people to be able to access reliable broadband, as they have had to work, home-school children and access entertainment at home.
Some 250,000 rural English homes and businesses are expected to be eligible from 17 local councils including the Borderlands, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, County Durham, Derbyshire, Dorset, East Riding of Yorkshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Sussex and Worcestershire. Kent County Council also agreed to top up the scheme for a second time, after providing additional funding in 2019.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman is urging businesses and communities to apply for the vouchers. He said: “This government is determined to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband speeds available from the Highlands to the Jurassic Coast.But we can only do this with collaboration at a local and national level so I’m delighted English councils have committed to pump more money into our voucher scheme to help rural communities get gigabit speed broadband.
“A quarter of all properties across the UK can now access these fast and reliable speeds, and we have earmarked a further £5 billion so rural towns and villages across the four nations can get the speeds they need to seize all the benefits of new technology.”
Rural communities in Wales saw the value of their vouchers double in June, after the UK and Welsh governments announced they were working together to boost the scheme. The UK government is also in discussions with the Scottish government and the Northern Ireland Executive and local councils about the potential and approach for gigabit schemes there.
The UK government has promised £5 billion to ensure hard-to-reach areas get access to gigabit connections over the next few years. Details on how this will be spent will be announced this autumn.