Guidance

Building Digital UK

Details of the plan to achieve a transformation in broadband in the UK

Overview

Building Digital UK (BDUK), part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is delivering superfast broadband and local full fibre networks to the nation.

The government:

  • is supporting investment to provide superfast broadband coverage to as many premises as possible beyond the 95% level achieved in December 2017
  • is also introducing a broadband Universal Service Obligation so that by 2020 everyone across the UK will have a clear, enforceable right to request high speed broadband
  • has provided access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all for those who do not currently have coverage otherwise
  • supports the stimulation of private investment in full fibre connections through a programme that is currently funded through March 2021

Superfast Broadband Programme

The government has ensured superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps or more) coverage for over 96% of UK premises and has provided universal access to basic broadband (speeds of at least 2Mbps).

You can check whether superfast broadband is available in your area using the superfast broadband postcode checker and find out more details about what is happening in your local area using our Google Map

If you have broadband access which is less than 2Mbps you can find out what options are available to you using the Basic Broadband Scheme site

More information on the government’s approach to delivering superfast broadband is available in the UK Next Generation Network Infrastructure Deployment Plan.

BDUK Local Body Information Spreadsheet

Information and take-up data on all procurements on the Superfast Broadband Programme can be found in the spreadsheet below. The spreadsheet also contains links to gainshare consultations published by local broadband projects. Table of local broadband projects

Further information on State aid is explained on the State Aid Advice web pages.

Local Full Fibre Networks Programme

The Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme is designed to stimulate commercial investment in full fibre networks in both rural and urban locations across the whole of the UK. Funding for the programme is drawn from a total of £740m from the National Productivity Investment Fund which has been allocated to LFFN and the 5G Testbeds and Trials programmes over the next four years.

In late 2017 LFFN launched the first wave of its programme, designed to test the market stimulation approaches the programme is taking. £10m was allocated to the launch of four pilot projects across the country, along with a project on rail connectivity run jointly with the 5G team. Ongoing analysis and evaluation of these pilot projects has helped us shape both our Challenge Fund and our Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

TransPennine Initiative

TransPennine Fibre

The Trans-Pennine Initiative (TPI) has delivered gigabit-capable infrastructure along the existing rail route between Manchester and York. The initiative will test the viability of using the rail corridor to deploy high capacity, cost effective fibre, aiming to stimulate commercial extension of the fibre footprint to line-side businesses and communities along the route. The project offers a range of connectivity services to telecoms operators and internet service providers seeking to deliver gigabit-capable connectivity to local communities along the route. It also offers connections at data centres in Manchester and Leeds, or breakout from initial points of presence along the route. For more information about the initiative, please visit Network Rail.

5G at the Rail Innovation and Development Centre, Melton

TPI has also seen the upgrade of the Network Rail test track at the Rail Innovation and Development Centre, Melton (RIDC) to create the first rail 5G testbed in Europe to support the next generation of digital infrastructure, including 5G and full fibre broadband. The investment at RIDC Melton will support the future of 5G technology testing, providing a location to test without the complexities of dealing with a live railway, and providing opportunities for equipment to receive acceptance prior to deployment on the live rail. For more information about 5G at RIDC, please view this brochure.

Challenge Fund

The Autumn Budget 2017 launched a £190m Challenge Fund on 22 November 2017. The Challenge Fund is a capital grant programme which funds locally-led public connectivity projects that have the potential to leverage commercial investment in gigabit-capable connections. The Challenge Fund was an element of the government’s National Productivity Investment Fund, and aims to help roll out full-fibre to local areas – providing the fastest, most reliable broadband to more homes and businesses.

In March 2018 13 projects were announced, utilising £95 million of the allocation.

In August 2018 a further wave of activity was launched, which closed for bids in December 2018. The final allocation will be announced by end Q3 2019, following completion of the evaluation and selection process for all the proposals that were taken forward to the LFFN Investment Panel.

The local body-led projects that the LFFN programme has established will deploy gigabit-capable connectivity, in most cases full fibre, to public sites in the project areas through our public sector anchor tenancy, public sector asset reuse or public sector building upgrade delivery methods. The Challenge Fund will help inform future programmes through exploration of new potential delivery methods to further increase the commercial deployment of full fibre.

DCMS continues to provide support and guidance to the local bodies leading the Wave 2 and Wave 3 projects to ensure successful delivery by 2021.

Any queries regarding the fund should be directed to LFFN@culture.gov.uk. Further updates about the LFFN Challenge Fund will be added as there is progress made.

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme

In March 2018 the LFFN programme launched a £67m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Gigabit broadband vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities around them to contribute to the installation cost of faster connections using gigabit-capable infrastructure. Small to medium sized businesses can claim a voucher worth up to £2,500 and residents can claim a voucher worth £500 as part of a group project.

The scheme is accessible through broadband service providers who have registered to provide connections through the scheme, so if you are a qualifying business or local community group interested in benefiting from a voucher:

Check whether your business/community group is eligible for a voucher - details are on the website. Then check whether there are registered suppliers in your area using the postcode search on the website. You can also talk to your existing supplier to see if they are participating in the scheme, or to encourage them to register.

Vouchers are issued to the supplier and can only be used to offset the cost of installing a gigabit-capable broadband connection to your premises.

For full details about whether you are eligible for a voucher and to connect you to a full fibre broadband supplier, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk.

Additional funding for Welsh Premises

From 22 March 2019, business and residents in Wales are eligible for additional funding from the Welsh Government towards the cost of installing gigabit capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project.

The Welsh Government will pay up to an additional £3,000 per small and medium-sized business (SME) and up to £300 more per resident in order to help connect harder to reach places in Wales.

Group projects are when two or more businesses get together – or businesses with residents – to combine their vouchers towards the cost of connections. Up to ten residents can get together with one business to create a group community project.

Eligibility rules (and the scheme terms and conditions) are the same as the rest of the UK so please check that you are eligible and then look up a supplier in your area through the postcode search.

For funding towards resident-only broadband connections please go to Access Broadband Cymru. For more information on the Welsh Gigabit Voucher Scheme please visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/wales/.

Better Broadband Voucher Scheme

The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme is in place to provide an affordable, basic broadband installation to homes and businesses that are unable to access a broadband service with a download speed of at least 2 Mbps and will not benefit from the Superfast broadband roll out within the next 12 months.

Since its launch in December 2015, the scheme has boosted the broadband speeds of more than 20,000 homes and businesses in some of the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

Households and businesses that are eligible to take advantage of the scheme have the installation and hardware costs of their connection subsidised to ensure their first year costs are no more than £400.

The subsidy is used to fund a variety of technological solutions including satellite, 4G and fixed wireless.

To find our more about the scheme and its criteria for eligibility please go to https://basicbroadband.culture.gov.uk/.

700MHz Clearance Programme

The 700MHz clearance programme is a government funded programme to clear airwaves in the 700MHz spectrum band, currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and PMSE (Programme Makers and Special Events) services. Once cleared the airwaves will be available for future mobile broadband services. The changes will be rolled out across different regions nationally and the programme is due to be complete by the summer of 2020.

Current users of 700MHz spectrum, including viewers of Digital Terrestrial Television, will be impacted by clearance events. The majority of viewers will simply need to retune their TV equipment to continue to receive services. This clearance follows a successful trial in the Scottish Borders (at Selkirk). While most viewers are likely to find restoring their service relatively straightforward, additional support will be available for those who need it.

Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme

The Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme commenced on 19 May 2019 and will run until the end of March 2021. The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, published in July 2018, identified that approximately 10% of UK premises, largely in rural and remote locations, would be unlikely to receive gigabit capable (full fibre) connections by 2033.

The programme is the first step of the “Outside In” approach, which seeks to ensure the final 10% of premises are addressed at the same pace as the rest of the UK. The government will determine the longer-term options for rural funding connectivity as part of the forthcoming Spending Review. Further details about the programme can be found here. This site also contains a Hub Site Submission sheet; if you are a Local Authority or a public sector organisation and interested in expressing an interest to become a future strategic partner for the programme, please complete this sheet and send it to the email address provided.

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme

As part of the RGC programme, BDUK has adapted the existing Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to support the delivery of full fibre connectivity in rural areas.

Businesses and homes in the hardest to reach areas of the UK may be eligible for funding towards the cost of installing full fibre broadband to their premises when part of a group project.

Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps can use vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each SME and up to £1,500 per residential premise.

Further details on eligibility and suppliers available in your area, please go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk.

Benefits of broadband

Improved connectivity is revolutionising our quality of life, from how we work and how our children learn, to how we spend our leisure time, how we do our weekly shop, and how we engage with public services. Find out more about how broadband can benefit you. A detailed review of the economic impacts of broadband is available in our UK Broadband Impact Study.

Superfast Broadband evaluation

An independent report is available in our Evaluation of the Economic Impact and Public Value of the Superfast Broadband Programme. This is a report by Ipsos Mori for DCMS evaluating the economic impacts and public value of the Superfast Broadband Programme .

European funding for broadband

BDUK acts as the Broadband Competence Office to provide assistance with European funding for broadband projects. This includes the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). These funds are administered by other government departments but BDUK can provide support to help.

Closed programmes

Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme

The government’s Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme ran from December 2013 until October 2015. Over 50,000 vouchers for superfast broadband connections were issued to SMEs during the scheme, with 37,000 vouchers issued since April 2015 across 50 UK cities.

More information on the scheme and its benefits can be found on the Connection Vouchers website.

Mobile Infrastructure Project

The government Mobile Infrastructure Project supported investment in mobile infrastructure to improve coverage for voice calls and text messages for the final 0.3-0.4% of UK premises that were unable to receive a service.

A detailed review of the Mobile Infrastructure Project is now available in our Impact and Benefits Report.

Market Test Pilots

The government also supported seven Market Test Pilots to gain understanding of the challenges in rolling out superfast broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

Published 27 February 2013
Last updated 18 September 2019 + show all updates
  1. New section added in for TPI
  2. Users can click the link to go to the Key Information document and Hub Site Submission sheet.
  3. RGC details added to reflect the programme launch.
  4. Change of Broadband Delivery to Building Digital
  5. Additional link to Wales GBVS
  6. Addition of paragraph on Welsh vouchers
  7. Better Broadband Scheme info added
  8. Announcing the deadline to apply for LFFN Challenge Fund Wave 3.
  9. Change in Gigabit Voucher amount available.
  10. Updated to include details and link to guidance for next wave of the Challenge Fund
  11. Link to newly published Evaluation of the Economic Impact and Public Value of the Superfast Broadband Programme added.
  12. Updated information regarding the Local Full Fibre Networks Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
  13. Added an update on the next wave of the LFFN Challenge Fund
  14. Updated information on the LFFN Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
  15. New information regarding announcement of Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
  16. New information about the LFFN Challenge Fund
  17. Updated information on Superfast Broadband and LFFN
  18. Updated information on the Local Full Fibre Networks Programme.
  19. Updated to include information on the 700MHz Clearance Programme.
  20. Link added for Gigabit Voucher Scheme Local Body Information.
  21. Adding information about the Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund Workshops.
  22. Local Full Fibre Networks programme has now launched the Challenge Fund.
  23. The Local Full Fibre Networks Gigabit Voucher Scheme Supplier & Package Registration Request site is now live.
  24. The Mobile Infrastructure Project Impact and Benefits report has been published.
  25. Update to include information on Local Full Fibre Networks
  26. Updated link
  27. Update to reflect changes following the end of the SuperConnected Cities Programme and closure of the Broadband Connection Voucher scheme.
  28. Updated project information for the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) portfolio.
  29. Removed 'Rural Community Broadband Fund Toolkit' as it is now redundant.
  30. Added updated version of State aid guidance technology guidelines.
  31. state aid documents added
  32. First published.