INTERNET: Superfast broadband voucher scheme extended.

By Lucy Ashton

A national voucher scheme helping people access superfast broadband is being extended by three months.

Homes and businesses in Scotland that are unable to access fast internet speeds now have until 31 March 2022 to apply for funding worth up to £400 under the Reaching 100% (R100) Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme. An additional £250 is available for those in the hardest-to-reach areas.

The vouchers can be used to boost broadband speeds by accessing technologies such as those using satellites, mobile and wireless solutions. They are an interim measure pending completion of the Scottish Government’s programme to deliver superfast speeds by installing permanent broadband connections in areas where the work is not viable for commercial providers.

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes, pictured right, said:  “The pandemic has reinforced the necessity for everyone to have access to fast, reliable broadband, whether for work, business, or their personal use.

“We will make sure everyone – regardless of where they live – has access to an acceptable level of connectivity so they can be part of the digital world. Extending the voucher scheme will help ensure no-one is excluded while we continue to roll out superfast broadband solutions across Scotland.

“Accessing fast and reliable broadband has never been so important and for our more rural communities it is vital. That is why the Scottish Government is making substantial investments in digital infrastructure to ensure all of Scotland has access to high speed internet.”

Meanwhile, the R100 online address checker aims to provide the most up to date information available regarding the R100 programme and eligibility for a voucher.

Scotland has some of the most challenging locations anywhere in Europe for providing telecoms infrastructure and the voucher scheme includes rural areas and islands which are difficult to service.

The R100 interim voucher is available to all homes and businesses with speeds less than 30 megabits per second and where superfast broadband roll-out is planned but is unlikely to be delivered until after 31 December 2021.

Those not expected to receive a superfast connection through either the R100 contracts or planned commercial investment will be eligible for a separate main voucher worth up to £5,000. Applications for main vouchers will continue to be accepted after March 2022.

First launched in August 2020, over 1,200 rural premises can now access faster speeds thanks to the voucher schemes. Another 1,100 premises are establishing a connection within the next year.

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