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Government urges rural communities to apply for gigabit-capable broadband scheme

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Almost 500,000 premises across the UK have been connected to gigabit-capable broadband in the last two years, the Government has said, as it urged people to take up subsidies on offer to get access to high-speed connections.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it has already issued around 45,000 vouchers in the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, worth more than £90 million, to subsidise the cost of building faster broadband for homes and businesses.

The scheme is being targeted at rural, hard-to-reach areas that are not likely to be connected through the commercial rollout of gigabit networks in the near future.

DCMS said the 500,000 premises which had been connected since 2018 had taken the total number of homes and businesses able to access gigabit-capable broadband to more than 7.5 million.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman also announced a new task force involving consumer and business groups Which?, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to push more people to take up the high-speed connections.

“It’s fantastic to see so many people getting access to gigabit-speed broadband. This is thanks to our investment alongside the sterling work of industry,” Mr Warman said.

“Today I urge people in rural communities in the digital slow lane to apply for the immediate financial help available so they can seize the benefits of better connectivity – from making work easier to catching up with family and friends.

“I am also launching a new drive with business and consumer champions to make more people aware of just how beneficial better, faster broadband can be.”

DCMS said to date, more than 3,500 broadband vouchers had been issued to rural homes and businesses in Somerset, as well as nearly 2,000 in Cumbria and more than 1,000 in Kent, Lancashire, Hampshire, West Yorkshire and Surrey.

The vouchers are worth up to £1,500 for rural homes and up to £3,500 for small and medium-sized businesses in rural areas, provided they apply as a collective of two or more properties.