The Government’s Broadband Upgrade Fund
To ensure the hardest-to-reach areas of the country are not left behind and can access improved broadband services, the government has introduced the Broadband Upgrade Fund, a pilot campaign for homes and businesses, as part of the national Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. The aim is to help capture public interest in faster, more reliable broadband in each of the pilot areas. This will encourage suppliers to extend their broadband networks to meet demand and the government will help to fund the cost of the work. The Broadband Upgrade Fund website https://broadband-upgrade-fund.campaign.gov.uk/ captures registrations of interest from residents and business owners for government funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their property. The demand in an area will be shown with pins on a map. At the same time the website map will show suppliers which communities are keen on this faster, more reliable service, making it more attractive for them to build to your area, years ahead of the market.
This pilot campaign is running in designated areas and rural premises in Northumberland, with broadband speeds of less than 100 megabits per second (Mbps), are eligible.
However, if you are ineligible for this particular fund, this does not necessarily mean that you cannot upgrade your broadband with the help of the government, see http://buildingdigital.campaign.gov.uk
The Broadband Upgrade Fund Process: 1. An individual person or individual business needs to go to https://broadband-upgrade-fund.campaign.gov.uk/ and register their demand for faster broadband (with the option to become the Community Co-ordinator for its community: A Community Co-ordinator from the group will be required to act as a voluntary intermediary between any suppliers who might wish to build better broadband to your area and your community)
2. Tell your neighbours and friends about the fund and watch the registrations of interest for faster, more reliable broadband in your area grow
3. Broadband suppliers will tell us if they are interested in building in your area based on the level of interest and we will put them in touch
4. Your community can compare options and costs and you can ask your local council for help but your community makes the final decision
5. Your chosen supplier will manage the application for voucher funding and you will receive an email from us to check that you agree
6. Your supplier gets to work to deliver your new connection
7. Connected! Your supplier lets us know the work is done
8. We check with you by email that the service is live and working
9. We sometimes make some further checks before we pay
The Community Co-ordinator from the group will be required to act as a voluntary intermediary between any suppliers who might wish to build better broadband to your area and your community. It might involve attending some meetings or getting a small group together in your community to support the project. You could also ask for support from someone from your local council.
For example, Gavin Keeble from Grisedale in Cumbria helped as a local co-ordinator when his community got together to improve their broadband across their remote dale to over 300 properties. He was part of a larger organising group who helped to co-ordinate communication with neighbours and different landowners to make a really positive impact in his community. You can read about the big difference it has made in his home and working life here.
Funding is only available when used in group projects and groups can be a mix of residents and businesses; just residents or just businesses. Each resident can have funding worth up to £1,500 and each small and medium-sized business (SME) can have funding worth up to £3,500. The funding goes towards supporting the cost of installing brand new gigabit-capable connections.
The supplier will apply for funding on your behalf and this will go straight to the supplier, not you. The value of the funding will then contribute to the build costs of installing a full fibre connection at your property. In most cases, the funding provided will pay for the cost of installing the new broadband provided you have enough properties in your group project. That is why it is important to encourage as many of your neighbours as possible to sign up and increase the size of your fund.
Sometimes the community may be asked to make a contribution to the overall cost if the funding does not cover it but you do not have to proceed further if you think that it is too much money.
What the customer will pay is dependent upon the broadband package that they have currently, the supplier that they use and whether their contract is part of a ‘bundle’ deal. Some people find they are paying a bit more each month for much faster broadband and some people find they are paying less.
Interests must be registered by 30 September 2020. After that, if a supplier is interested in building better broadband to your area, the whole process from contract to connection could take up to a year but it could be less. This depends on a whole range of reasons from how near you are to the nearest town; your current broadband infrastructure; the supplier you use and even the weather.
There could be some disruption along roads but in rural areas, telephone cables tend to be overhead. When you are connected to gigabit-capable broadband an engineer will need access to your property to install a new junction box and to bring the new cable to you. They will contact you to arrange a day and time that is convenient.
Registering your interest as a resident and/or a business Sign up by entering your details on the home page, https://broadband-upgrade-fund.campaign.gov.uk/ Once you have done so you will be able to see if others in your area have also registered interest to upgrade their home or business broadband on a pin map. As a resident you are entitled to £1,500 towards the upgrade. As an SME you are entitled to £3,500 towards the upgrade. Once enough people in your area sign up, you will be asked to choose a broadband supplier and then it is over to them.
The application for the Broadband Upgrade Fund is managed by the broadband supplier that your community chooses. This means, once you have registered your interest, and a supplier has agreed to build a new service to your area, they will request the funding on your behalf. The voucher funding will go straight to the supplier, not to you. The value of the funding will then contribute to the build costs of installing a full fibre