Farmers encouraged to apply for rural broadband voucher scheme

Rural estates and farms needing to improve their broadband connectivity have another opportunity to apply for grant funding through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

The government has recently confirmed that a third round of the scheme will open on April 8, 2021, with a total funding pot of £210 million on offer.

In many rural areas, existing wired broadband connections are said to be “woefully slow“.

For the fastest and most reliable fixed wired broadband, capable of delivering speeds sufficient for modern demands, a full-fibre connection is required.

Stuart Gray of Strutt & Parker’s St Alban’s office, said the scheme offers grants (known as vouchers) to anyone with a connection speed of less than 100mbps, in rural areas where no investment is already planned to improve broadband infrastructure.

He said:

Applicants do need to be part of a group scheme, meaning two or more homes or businesses combining vouchers towards a shared cost of installation

Larger numbers of properties can also band together to form a community fibre partnership, and given eligible premises can receive up to £1,500/home or £3,500/business.

Other assistance grants

Gray pointed out that other grant assistance may also be available from local authorities and/or development trusts.

He said that “a number of successful community fibre partnerships have received funding from multiple sources, both public and private”.

However, it is worth noting that rolling out fibre-optic networks takes significant time even with government assistance.

“Only half the requested connections have actually been made so far.

“The Gigabit Voucher Scheme has also proved popular in the past, so applicants are advised to act promptly in case the funding is used up quickly,” he concluded.

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