£1million investment in scheme to increase superfast broadband access in Hampshire

Hampshire County Council has invested £1 million in to a scheme to help more difficult-to-reach communities benefit from superfast broadband.

Aug 9 2017

Superfast Broadband Laptop

The Community Match Funding scheme applies to locations which will not be covered by the Hampshire Superfast Broadband programme*, which is already on track to provide 97.4% of the county with superfast broadband access by 2019. The County Council will provide up to half of the funding to match money raised by communities, to help connect the remaining 2.6% of communities in areas which are generally harder and more expensive to reach.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “Good broadband access is fundamental - people rely on the internet everyday, whether it’s for banking and shopping, or learning and working from home. Not only is it vital for the economy of Hampshire, it is also an effective way of delivering modern and accessible public services. This money will allow more people to benefit from what is rapidly becoming an essential service.”

Mr Kneller is part of a group of 17 properties in Silchester, near Tadley - the first community to be taking part in the scheme. Mr Kneller said: “Superfast broadband will make a big difference to us. I’d like to work from home sometimes, and at the moment that just isn’t possible. My family would also like to be able to stream films and use catch-up services, and do things like book holidays online. Ultimately it’s what most people now take for granted.”

The Community Match Funding scheme has been developed in conjunction with BT’s Community Fibre Partnership. It follows a wider roll-out of superfast broadband services across Hampshire, which so far has involved upgrading connections to more than 87,000 properties. The Hampshire Superfast Broadband programme is due to increase coverage across the county from 80% (areas already covered, commercially) to 97.4% by the end of 2019 – well in excess of Government targets.

By 2019, Hampshire County Council will have invested £12.9 million in to the programme - with £16.4 million from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and £1.25 million from district councils.

Steve Haines, managing director for Openreach, said: “It is great to be able to work with Hampshire County Council and communities like Silchester to find a fibre broadband solution. Openreach is committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible for households and businesses. The technology really does have the ability to transform the way people interact online.”

Find out more at www.hants.gov.uk/broadband

Further details

Eligible communities are those not included in the current superfast broadband roll-out, where the community are willing and able to raise 50% of the cost of getting superfast broadband themselves.

Applications accepted into the scheme will benefit from County Council funding up to 50% of the total cost (ex VAT) with a ceiling of £1,650 per superfast premise passed.

Examples are shown below:

a) £25,000 for 50 premises = £500 per premise - the County Council will commit match-funding of £250 per premise, requiring the community to add £250 per premise.

b) £25,000 for 5 premises = £5,000 per premise - the County Council will commit match-funding of £1,650 per premise, requiring the community to add £3,350 per premise.

If necessary, communities will be responsible for their own VAT contribution.

State Aid

Public sector funding for infrastructure owned by the private sector is regulated under strict state aid rules. At the moment this means that public money can only be spent with companies that already have a contract with a public sector body to deliver superfast services via a contract which clearly identifies that additional funding may be committed through that contract.

Hampshire County Council made provision for the funding of a community match scheme within its contract with BT Group. The match-funding scheme will operate within the overall framework of this contract and it is only possible to provide match-funding against a BT/Openreach solution.  Other suppliers of broadband infrastructure are not currently able to take part in the scheme, but the position remains under review.

Funding from the community as part of the Community Match Funding scheme has to be privately sourced; it cannot be derived from the public sector e.g grants etc.