Farming UK ran a news piece yesterday (15th March 2018) which reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced investment of £67m for faster internet connections, hopefully to boost access in remote areas.
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Investment of £67m announced for faster internet connectivity
Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced investment of £67m for faster internet connections, with hopes the move will boost connectivity access in rural areas.The Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) will provide vouchers worth up to £3000 for a small or medium sized business or £500 to residents to help with the costs of connecting to full fibre broadband.
The only way rural residents can benefit from the voucher scheme is as part of a local community group scheme, which must also include small businesses.
Residents and businesses taking part in a group scheme are able to join together to pool the value of their vouchers.
Within this group the total value of vouchers used by businesses must always be greater than the value of vouchers taken by residents.
Mr Hammond said: "We’re backing Britain’s small businesses by investing £67 million to bring full-fibre broadband to more businesses up and down the country.
"This means faster, more reliable broadband access as we build the digital infrastructure we need to make our economy fit for the future."'Biggest barriers'Rural organisation the CLA has been calling for investment in schemes such as this to help narrow the rural-urban digital divide.
CLA Senior Economist Dr Charles Trotman said: “Poor broadband remains one of the biggest barriers to rural economic growth.
“The CLA called for schemes such as this gigabit voucher to meet the connectivity needs of rural communities so we are pleased the investment is being made on a national scale.
“The ability of rural businesses and homes to pool vouchers will also be essential in ensuring that the momentum towards universal connectivity is maintained.
“When used together with other schemes, such as Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership, hard to reach rural areas will finally realise the advantages of superfast broadband.”
Last month, the Church of England announced it would allow church spires across the UK to be used as a digital connectivity boost in rural areas.
It seems that group scheme's such as the one I wish to achieve with you all is the best way to get this moving forward and achieving faster broadband for all our rural residents.
Whilst the voucher scheme is still in it's mark test phase, the government has announced it will launch the national scheme at the end of March.
The scheme will rely on broadband suppliers, like BT. If you are interested in benefitting from the scheme, you should in the first instance contact your ISP and encourage them to take part.