Slow broadband? You could get a £1,500 voucher
The government says Project Gigabit will ‘accelerate our recovery from covid, fire up high growth sectors like tech and the creative industries and level up the country, spreading wealth and creating jobs the breadth of Britain’.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme first launched in March 2018, but it’s being expanded in April 2021.
The new vouchers, worth up to £1,500 for homes and up to £3,500 for businesses, will be available from 8 April.
Up to 510,000 homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the first to benefit from the scheme.
The next areas are expected to be Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
In these areas, the government says broadband speeds will rocket to more than 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second. The idea is to give people in rural areas the freedom to live and work more flexibly.
Digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Project Gigabit is our national mission to plug in and power up every corner of the UK and get us gigafit for the future.
“We have already made rapid progress, with almost 40% of homes and businesses now able to access next-generation gigabit speeds, compared to just 9% in 2019. Now we are setting out our plans to invest £5bn in remote and rural areas so that no one is left behind by the connectivity revolution.
“That means no more battling over the bandwidth, more freedom to live and work anywhere in the country, and tens of thousands of new jobs created as we deliver a game-changing infrastructure upgrade.”
Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, said: “This year has highlighted the importance of fast and reliable broadband, so it’s good to see the government prioritise areas which have suffered for too long with poor internet connections.
“The government should clarify when these communities will actually be able to benefit from these connections, as consumers are relying on the internet more than ever and improving connectivity will play an important role as we recover from the pandemic.”