Broadband schemes

Broadband schemes

There are several funding schemes available, aimed at supporting communities and businesses that don't have superfast broadband.

The Superfast Worcestershire Partnership is working to bring superfast broadband connectivity to 97% of homes and businesses in Worcestershire by Summer 2021. Whilst great progress has already been made and superfast speeds are available to over 97.5% of Worcestershire premises, areas without access to superfast speeds still remain.

For those in the remaining 2.5%, there are several funding schemes available, aimed at supporting communities and businesses.

Summary of the schemes:

New UK Gigabit Voucher Scheme launched by the UK Government

As part of the wider £5bn Project Gigabit programme the UK Government started a new rural focused £210m gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme on the 8th April 2021. This additional investment in the Voucher Scheme will continue supporting the cost of installing faster and more reliable full fibre broadband connections for small to medium sized business and the local communities around them.

In this follow-on scheme the eligibility criteria has been narrowed so that only those premises in the remotest areas are eligible, using Ofcom’s Area 3: Non-Competitive Areas criteria where Openreach is the only operator providing large-scale network.

With the increase in use of cloud-based services, streamed services, voice and video conferencing and cyber security measures that was predicted for 2020, the move to homeworking for many has made this even more important. Gigabit capable connections will allow users to increase download and upload speeds according to their home needs but more and more around working from home. This huge leap in connection speeds has benefited those already on full fibre but through this voucher scheme will widen the benefits for you and your business into the future.

Each eligible business can claim up to £3,500 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can claim a voucher worth £1,500 as part of a group project. (Group projects must have a ratio of 1 business to 10 residential premises.)

For full details about whether you are eligible for a voucher and to connect you to a full fibre broadband supplier, go to the UK Government Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme website

As of May 2021, DCMS data shows that the UK Government has allocated £159.2m of support through the voucher schemes throughout the UK. So, if you'd like to give your business and community a faster connection, don't delay!

Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO)

The new USO is a UK-wide measure, intended to fill the gap left by the UK Government’s existing broadband roll-out programs, to deliver broadband connections to the hardest to reach premises in the UK. Ofcom reported that as of May 2017, 1.1 million premises (4%) in the UK would qualify for the USO.

At present around 97.5% of the UK (and Worcestershire) can already order a fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) connection and by the end of 2021 this is expected to reach around 98%, which means that the new USO will be primarily focused upon helping to cater for those in the final 2%; estimated to be somewhere around 300,000 to 500,000 premises nationwide in 2021.

The USO is being delivered by Ofcom (with BT and KCOM as appointed suppliers on the scheme), and customers have been able to request a USO connection since March 2020. The USO will give UK households and businesses currently receiving less than 10Mbps download and not due to receive a service from a publicly-funded roll out programme, the right to request a decent broadband connection of at least 10Mbps (download) and 1Mbps (upload) up to the installation cost of £3400. Where costs are over £3400, consumers will be required to contribute the excess costs or do some of the work themselves.

Recently, BT (the nominated supplier for Worcestershire) have written to all eligible Worcestershire premises to make them aware of the scheme and how to progress individual requests.

More information can be found at Ofcom’s Broadband USO Need to Know and on BT’s USO page.

Future funding and Community Pathfinder Project with Airband

Future funding 

Worcestershire County Council is constantly exploring opportunities to provide access to improved broadband in all parts of Worcestershire. Current investigations include opportunities through DEFRA and Local Full Fibre Networks at DCMS

Community Pathfinder Project with Airband

Alongside the Superfast Worcestershire Partnership with BT, Worcestershire County Council identified additional funding for Pathfinder Community Projects in 2012/13. As a result, three communities were successful in their bids for funding from the County Council to provide access to faster Broadband in their areas; further information on Pathfinder Projects

Supporting commercial operators in Worcestershire

Worcestershire County Council continue to work with commercial operators to ensure Worcestershire is an appealing place to invest and operate.

Working with mobile operators

Worcestershire County Council recognise the importance of mobile phone connectivity in and around the county, acknowledging that existing 2G, 3G and 4G services can be improved across the county; whether that be improving coverage or optimising the network when it is available.

Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire LEP worked with supplier AWTG to undertake a series of drive and static trials in the spring of 2017 and 2019. Having understood the outcome of these trials the Council has engaged with the four major mobile network operators EE, 02, Three and Vodafone; working with them to understand and overcome challenges locally.

These conversations have delivered positive responses in the County, with optimisation taking place and new sites being investigated. All four operators continue positive engagement with us, and we welcome their ongoing support. 

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