The government believes full fibre networks are the future and that getting ready for a gigabit speed is a key step for most businesses. Optical fibre-based networks are faster, more reliable, easier to upgrade and set the standard for connectivity. Demand for greater digital connectivity in terms of speed and reliability is expected to grow exponentially in future years.
The Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) is part of a government plan to get more businesses connected to full fibre broadband. It will provide vouchers for small or medium-sized firms to help with the costs of connecting to the service.
The government is committed to making full fibre broadband available to at least 10 million homes and businesses by 2022. This next generation of connectivity will help the country to remain productive and competitive over the long-term, creating a Britain ‘fit for the future’, and enabling businesses to create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK.
Full fibre connections are faster, more reliable and cheaper to operate than traditional copper lines, and are capable of supporting not only gigabit, but terabit and even petabit speeds, which will serve the UK far into the future.
The government has announced some changes to the GBVS scheme to ensure that it benefits more people: The maximum amount that businesses can claim towards the cost of installation has changed from £3,000 to £2,500. Additionally, the funder is making it easier for groups of residents to pool their vouchers together with small and medium-sized businesses in project schemes.
Minister for Digital Margot James said:
"Our modern Industrial Strategy is clear on the importance of connectivity, as we build a full fibre Britain that is fit for the future. These vouchers provide practical and immediate help to firms struggling with slow broadband speeds. I encourage small businesses around the UK to apply now."
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said:
"Access to good broadband is vital for small businesses across the UK, and with the clock ticking on this scheme, it’s important small businesses don’t delay if they want to apply for funding."
The scheme was initially expected to run until March 2021, however, high demand means that funds are now expected to be committed a year earlier, and perhaps even sooner.