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Government adds wireless to BDUK consumer voucher scheme

The government has extended the BDUK consumer broadband voucher programme to cover wireless systems in a few locations, in addition to satellite

The government has extended the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) supplementary scheme intended to subsidise satellite broadband connections for people receiving speeds of 2Mbps or less to cover wireless systems, in a few selected locations.

East Yorkshire-based wireless altnet Quickline – which operates an expanding network covering the area around Hull, Scunthorpe and Grimsby – revealed it had been approved onto the scheme at the end of January.

In a statement, it said: “This is part of the government’s commitment to give access to 2Mbps download speeds to all premises in the UK. Local authorities in conjunction with BDUK are making available the option of a subsidised basic broadband installation for eligible premises in Lincolnshire, which is notorious for its poor internet connections due to the vast rural area.

“With Quickline’s wireless service, this voucher will make the installation completely free for residential properties in parts of Lincolnshire, in particular West Lindsey.”

Quickline offers a number of broadband packages for both consumers and businesses, starting at 10Mbps and rising to 50Mbps.

Consumer voucher scheme

The move comes after digital economy minister Ed Vaizey was forced to reveal that just £8,400 out of the voucher scheme’s funding pot of £60m had been spent so far.

Based on a maximum value of £350 per installation, this would suggest that only 24 satellite vouchers had been issued, although the true figure is likely to be somewhat higher.

However, a government spokesperson told Computer Weekly that the decision to extend the programme to cover wireless was "not related in any way" to the take-up rate of satellite vouchers.

The consumer voucher scheme was launched in December 2015 – nine months after the idea was put forward in the pre-election Budget – as part of a drive to provide an immediate boost to broadband speeds, ahead of the wider BDUK scheme, for those receiving the very slowest service in the remotest parts of the UK.

Its initial slow take-up mirrors that of the recent small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) Connection Voucher scheme, which struggled to gain much traction when it was first launched. The government ended up extending the programme to boost awareness and interest.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) proclaimed the SME scheme – which was closed in October 2015 after exhausting its funding pot – a resounding success, with more than 55,000 small businesses taking advantage of the special offer.

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