Thousands of rural homes and businesses across Scotland have been given access to more financial help to get top-of-the-range broadband speeds, as the Scottish and UK governments have agreed to join their voucher funding schemes.
The UK government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme subsidises the costs of building gigabit-capable broadband networks in remote areas – which often requires digging trenches to lay full fibre cables to people’s doorsteps – which is often too high for commercial operators to cover alone.
Since May 2019, vouchers worth up to £3,500 for small and medium sized businesses and up to £1,500 for residential premises have been available to cover these costs across the UK.
The Scottish government’s supplier-led Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme provides people with a voucher worth up to £5,000 to help deliver a permanent broadband connection to properties where there is no roll-out of superfast broadband planned.
As the Scottish government has teamed up with the UK government to combine their funding, it has expanded the voucher up to £8,500 for SMEs and up to £6,500 for homes in Scotland.
The offer means eligible people experiencing the slowest speeds in some of the most remote areas of Scotland will be able to access a voucher that provides the maximum funding from both schemes.
Matt Warman, UK government Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: “This government is determined to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband available. Our new deal with the Scottish government unlocks extra funding to help rural communities benefit from gigabit-capable connections.
“A quarter of all properties across the UK can now access these faster speeds and with more collaboration like this at a local and national level, we will see even more rural towns and villages staking their claim to these next-generation speeds.”
Added Scotland’s Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse: “We have been working closely with the UK government to join up our respective funds and processes to maximise the impact of our respective voucher schemes across Scotland to add to progress achieved under the Digital Scotland Superfast Programme and augment our investment through our £600 million R100 programme. This collaboration will ensure that more people, communities and businesses in the hardest-to-reach areas in Scotland are able to access maximum funding available for better broadband.”