With so much of life now requiring some access to the internet, it is important for most businesses to have a reliable and fast internet connection. The pandemic has highlighted this further, with the need for people to work from home and away from services such as broadband, typically provided by the workplace.
But if you are located in a rural area, accessing quality broadband can be a challenge as these areas haven’t always been prioritised for the latest technology. This issue is being addressed by a number of government projects. Here we look at the rural broadband funding scheme and how your business can access it.
What is the rural broadband funding scheme?
Also referred to as the Gigabit broadband voucher scheme, the rural broadband funding scheme is a government run programme aimed at helping to improve internet connectivity across the UK.
There is a pot of £210million to claim from, which is being provided for those who live in eligible rural areas and are experiencing slow broadband speeds.
If you are eligible, you can claim vouchers worth
- Up to £1,500 for homes
- Up to £3,000 for businesses
The vouchers are designed to cover costs of installing gigabit broadband to your property.
Who can access the programme?
In order to access the rural broadband funding scheme, you need to meet 3 criteria:
- Have existing broadband speeds which are less than 100Mbps
- A gigabit capable network isn’t likely to be extended to your area commercially in the near future
- There is no government-funded contract planned or in place to improve the network already
You must also be part of a group project. This means two or more residents or businesses must combine their vouchers to share the cost of installation of new broadband services. Single connections are not eligible to apply for the scheme.
As a business looking to access the scheme you will also need to:
- Self-certify that you are a small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
- Provide evidence of your status as an SME or sole trader
- Self-certify that your 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.
How can you find out if you are eligible?
To find out if you are eligible to potentially receive a voucher under the government scheme you can complete a postcode check on the Gigabit Voucher website. This will then tell you whether you may be eligible for a voucher.
Once you know whether you are eligible for the voucher scheme you will then need to talk to a registered supplier in your area. You can find out if there are already plans for a group project in your area which you can join, or if not, you can try to gather community interest to get a group project set up. You will need to follow this step by step process to activate a voucher.
The government is also rolling out ‘Project Gigabit’, a larger scale roll out of gigabit broadband to rural areas. So, if your business is not eligible for the Gigabit broadband voucher scheme you will hopefully see improvements to your broadband through this project over time.
What benefits could the rural broadband funding scheme bring to your business?
Having a fast, reliable broadband connection could be transformative for your business if you are currently struggling with a slow connection. So, it is certainly worth looking into whether you may qualify for this scheme.
The key benefits are:
- Improved working speeds when not having long, slow download times
- Improved ability to work from home and engage with flexible working
- Ability to make more use of technology to run your business, such as video conference calls
- Better ability to manage your business’s online presence
Anthony Jones is a specialist small business insurer. Being a small business ourselves we understand the challenges, rewards and effort which go into making your business a success. So chat to us about your small business insurance needs – our expert teams can help you understand the insurance that is right for you and support you through the entire process – from buying to claims support should you ever need it. Get in touch with us today on 020 8290 9080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.