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UK pumps £22m into rural broadband voucher scheme

A quarter of a million rural homes and businesses are eligible for a £22m voucher scheme to bring gigabit broadband to people currently suffering from slow speeds.

The Government hopes the funding will “revolutionise” rural communities and make them more attractive places to live as well as ensure that people will be able to rely on the internet to communicate with work.

Gigabit-capable broadband enables internet download speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second, which is enough to download an HD movie in less than 30 seconds and lay the foundations for 8K-quality video streaming and virtual-reality online gaming.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman has said businesses and communities should apply for the new voucher scheme to “future-proof” their internet connections.

The scheme is specifically designed to attract construction of new infrastructure in areas that are too isolated for it to be a commercially viable proposition.

Warman said: “This government is determined to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband speeds available from the Highlands to the Jurassic Coast.

“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 £5bn so rural towns and villages across the four nations can get the speeds they need to seize all the benefits of new technology.”

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.

Since the General Election a number of new policies have been implemented, such as mandatory gigabit infrastructure for new builds, giving sewer access to utility firms to run their cables through and granting Ofcom new powers to share operators’ broadband plans with the Government.

But despite the measures, MPs warned last year that the Government’s plans do not “grasp the extent” of the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

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