The Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme is a new, two year “outside-in” approach to rollout gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to the most rural and remote locations across the UK. The programme will ensure that rural areas will not be disadvantaged and instead, reached at the same time as commercial rollout.
The approach has initially prioritised rural sites in Cornwall, Cumbria, Northumberland and Pembrokeshire, followed by additional sites in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales; the rest of England is yet to be announced. The rollout will commence as a trial model in rural areas to connect eligible public sector buildings, such as primary schools, with gigabit-capable connectivity and will also enable the surrounding area to be viable for commercial intervention. So far, there are 31 schools that would be eligible and would benefit from the gigabit-capable connection. Other public buildings such as health sites and community halls are due to incorporated as the programme progresses.
There is also a voucher available for the harder-to-reach places in the UK that may be eligible for additional funding towards the cost of installation when part of a group project. Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps can use vouchers up to:
- £3,500 for small businesses
- £1,500 for residents
'Rural' is defined by the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme using agreed standard measures in the relevant part of the UK. For the gigabit voucher premises in the following areas will be defined as rural.
- England & Wales – DeFRA definitions D1 – F2
- Northern Ireland – NISRA definitions E – H
- Scotland – NRS definitions 3 – 6
The Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme will also accompany other BDUK Programmes that are delivering UK full fibre, such as ‘Superfast Broadband’ and ‘Local Full Fibre Networks’ and will not overlap with areas where a solution is already available or will be delivered through existing interventions.
The Government is committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain and has set the target of reaching 15 million premises with full fibre by 2025 and a nationwide network by 2033. The funding for the RGC programme has derived from the Government’s National Infrastructure Productivity Fund (NPIF), which is designed to strengthen UK productivity and raise living standards.
Source – GOV.UK and DCMS website