Rural areas of England suffering with some of the slowest internet speeds in the country have been given new hope of receiving ultrafast broadband with a £22.2 million funding boost for connections.
Extra money is being pumped into the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which is designed to subsidise the cost of building gigabit-capable broadband networks in remote areas.
Improving the nation’s connectivity speeds was a key election pledge from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who wants to bring gigabit-speed broadband to the whole of the UK in the next five years.
Gigabit broadband would make it possible to download an HD movie in less than 30 seconds.
The extra funding comes after reliable broadband became even more vital for many homes during the coronavirus pandemic, enabling people to work form home and stay connected with loved ones.
According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), some 250,000 English homes and businesses are expected to be eligible from 17 English councils.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman is urging businesses and communities to apply for the vouchers.
“This Government is determined to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband speeds available from the Highlands to the Jurassic Coast,” he said.
“But we can only do this with collaboration at a local and national level so I’m delighted English councils have committed to pump more money into our voucher scheme to help rural communities get gigabit speed broadband.
“A quarter of all properties across the UK can now access these fast and reliable speeds, and we have earmarked a further £5 billion so rural towns and villages across the four nations can get the speeds they need to seize all the benefits of new technology.”
The vouchers are worth up to £1,500 for rural homes and up to £3,500 for small and medium-sized businesses in rural areas, provided they apply as a collective of two or more properties.
Councils adding extra funding include the Borderlands, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, County Durham, Derbyshire, Dorset, East Riding of Yorkshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Sussex and Worcestershire.
Kent County Council also agreed to top up the scheme for a second time, after providing additional funding in September 2019.