Broadband boost for rural homes and businesses as councils announce additional funding for Government voucher scheme

“By topping up the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme West Sussex Councils are delivering on our ambition to make West Sussex a leading area for digital investment, innovation and expansion"

 
Gigabit growth. Picture courtesy of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Release date: 25 June 2020

Residents and small and medium-sized businesses in rural areas of West Sussex can now benefit from the fastest and most reliable broadband connectivity if they choose to ‘go gigabit’.

Thanks to collaboration between the county’s local authorities, more money is now available to pay for gigabit-capable broadband connectivity through the Government's Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

County, District and Borough Councils in West Sussex have worked together to jointly invest in topping up the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to enable it to go further for our residents and businesses. Now rural eligible premises can claim up to £4,000 each towards the installation cost of gigabit-capable broadband, when part of a group of premises.

Gigabit-capable broadband enables internet download speeds of up 1000 megabits per second (mbps), much faster than current superfast speeds of 30 mbps. This next-generation connectivity has the potential to revolutionise rural communities, making them more attractive places to live, giving people the freedom to live and work more flexibly and helping develop thriving digital economies.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “As part of our plans to level up communities across the UK, we’re prioritising bringing the economic and social benefits of gigabit-capable broadband to rural areas.

“Even more help is now at hand for rural parts of West Sussex currently suffering with slow speeds. I encourage people and businesses in these areas to check if they’re eligible for a voucher to boost their broadband with these next-generation speeds.”

Welcoming the additional funding, Bob Lanzer, county council Cabinet Member for Economy and Corporate Performance, said: “We are going further and doing more for rural eligible communities who can face increased challenges in receiving broadband infrastructure and coverage. We are pleased to introduce this additional funding at a time when having fast and reliable broadband has never been more important to the health and wellbeing of our communities and the productivity and growth of our economy."

“Gigabit capable infrastructure enables the user to achieve up to 1,000 megabits per second (mbps) download speeds. It is a generational leap forward in speeds and is future ready.  Not only is gigabit-capable broadband faster but it also provides users with a reliable connection.”

Councillor Lanzer added: “By topping up the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme West Sussex Councils are delivering on our ambition to make West Sussex a leading area for digital investment, innovation and expansion. We are keen that as many people as possible benefit and can provide help and assistance with making an application to the scheme.”

The additional funding will mean that customers will be able to use the voucher to pay for up to £4,000 of installation costs when they get a connection from a supplier that is registered on the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. In most cases, the voucher fully covers the installation costs and the resident or business will only need to pay for the ongoing broadband connection package, in the usual manner.

The deadline to apply for a voucher is 31 March 2021. For more information and to check eligibility visit the DCMS website at https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/. Alternatively, contact broadband@westsussex.gov.uk for more information, help and assistance.

More than £1million of additional broadband connectivity has been achieved in the county via the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, benefiting more than 400 households and businesses to date.

Notes to editors:

More information about Gigabit broadband voucher schemes is available online.

The West Sussex top up to the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme enables qualifying residential premises and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in rural eligible postcodes to get funding towards the installation cost of gigabit capable broadband. The top up boosts the amount that rural eligible SMEs and residential premises can obtain on top of the original Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) voucher.

To be eligible premises need to be within a rural eligible postcode, only have  speeds of less than 100mbps available to them, apply in a group of two or more premises and sign up to a broadband connectivity package of at least 30mbps for 12 months.

All agreements are between the user and the scheme registered suppliers. A full list of eligible suppliers in West Sussex is available on DCMS website at https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/.

Since 2013, West Sussex County Council has been addressing the challenge of digital connectivity speed and coverage and has successfully delivered better, faster broadband to more than 70,000 homes and businesses that would not have received it through investment by commercial suppliers.

All West Sussex Councils are now working together to increase coverage of digital infrastructure across the county.

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