1. Who is eligible for a Rural Voucher?
Anyone who owns or rents a property is eligible for a Rural Gigabit Voucher. The test is based around property and business tax, if you are paying or liable to pay any form of property or business taxation you are eligible, even if you don’t actually pay anything due to discounts or losses.
2. What is the difference between a Residential Voucher and a Business Voucher?
For us as a supplier, a business voucher is worth more towards the overall cost of building the network and connecting individual properties. There are some crucial differences:
Residential Vouchers are worth £1500 and include VAT. With a residential voucher there is no cost to the property to connect to the fibre, apart from the monthly charges. ie there is no connection fee upfront.
When validating your residential voucher, it will state you are liable for VAT, this is incorrect and a hangover from the business only voucher scheme, refer to Schedule 1 of the DCMS Voucher Terms & Conditions – Residential Rural Voucher include VAT.
Business Vouchers are worth £3500 but can’t be used to pay VAT. For business vouchers we invoice you the vat element (£700) which you pay and reclaim via your normal VAT return. There is no other cost to you apart from the month charges
3. What if my business is not VAT registered?
If your business is not VAT registered you have 2 options:
a) Pay the £700 as a capital contribution to the network build (obviously not popular choice.
b) Opt for a residential voucher with no VAT to pay.
4. Can I claim more than 1 voucher?
There are limits on the amount of funding any legal entity can receive, upto £3500 each
Individuals can claim 1 Residential Voucher for their main home and also claim upto £2000 in additional vouchers for other properties such as holiday lets or rental properties. The 2nd voucher could be worth upto £1500 but the 3rd voucher would only be worth £500
Businesses that are either Sole Traders or Partnerships are treated as individuals so someone working from home as a sole trader would be permitted to claim 1 Residential Voucher and 1 Business Voucher but the Business Voucher would only be worth £2000 and would be subject to VAT
Limited Companies or LLP are seperate legal entities and so are able to claim upto £3500 as a business voucher excluding VAT.
It is perfectly reasonable for example for a farm to claim
1 residential voucher worth £1500 inc VAT for the farm house plus 1 Business voucher for the farm worth £3500 ex VAT, in fact this should be encouraged as the additional funding assists in the build costs to reach more remote properties.
5. Who applies for the voucher?
We apply to DCMS for the voucher on your behalf, you then validate the claim via email.
6. Who gets the money?
The funding is paid directly to us on completion of your connection and start of live service. However you are the recipient or beneficiary of the funding for state aid compliance.
7. How do we apply through you?
Please complete the form at this link and we will complete the application for you.
8. What information do I need to provide?
For home owners we need the following
Address & Post Code
Consent to Apply for your voucher
For Business’ we need
Limited Company Number if applicable
Address & Post Code
Consent to Apply for your voucher
9. I have more questions?
Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can reply with detailed information or call you back.
10. How do you build the full fibre network?
We build the network entirely underground, this involves installing duct which we then blow fibre optic cables through.
These fibre optic cables then get spliced together in chambers and run directly to the wall of your property.
This creates a continuous fibre optic path from our Cabinet in Shillingford to your property upto 20km away. From our Cabinet different long distance fibres connect the Cabinet to our Data Centres in London Docklands and Reading.
The only copper cable in your connection is the local CAT6 cable in your home.
The fibre is currently capable of delivering speeds of 1000Mbps Download and 1000Mpbs Upload, but the same fibre can be upgraded to 10Gbps or even 40Gbps by changing the device at either end. In other words the network is entirely future proof.
11. Why don’t you use Wireless?
Fibre Optics are the gold standard, future proof option. In rural areas like West Somerset, wireless can work for some people but trees and valleys cause issues. Wireless also doesnt like wet weather much.
Fibre is entirely passive between your home and our cabinet, there is no signal loss or speed changes with distance, it doesn’t care about water and it is simple to fix if it is ever damaged.
12. Isn’t 5G the answer to everything?
Despite the hype and excitment, 5G will not be the answer for rural broadband due to coverage. Even if coverage is available in the short term, Gigabit Speeds are not possible due to the available frequencies and spectrum available to wireless operators. In simple terms, land mass coverage from 5G will be on lower frequencies which cover distance and terrain well, but can’t support either density of users or high speeds. Density of Users and Gigabit speeds are delivered using high frequencies which have very short range.
As mobile operators have struggled to deliver 4G coverage to some rural areas, it is unlikely they can delivery 5G any faster.
13. How can you build this network when Openreach & Gigaclear failed?
We can build full fibre to your property only because of the following factors:
a) Rural Gigabit Voucher funding
b) High demand from your local community
c) Our local knowledge
d) Our lower cost business model.
We cant promise to be the cheapest broadband in the country, but we can delivery the connectivity you need & we can deliver it quickly, if we have your support.
14. What about properties that don’t sign up for a voucher?
We will design the build plan around those properties that sign up for vouchers. We’ll include capacity for any properties we pass along that route but have not signed up with us.
While voucher funding is available, we can provide a free connection to those properties if they sign up later for a voucher. If the funding is exhausted, those properties would have to pay a connection and activation charge for the network to be connected to their property, they may also have to pay a build charge if there is a significant amount of work involved in digging the fibre to them from the nearest node.
The important message is sign up for a voucher for free connection, even if you then cancel the service after the minimum 12 month term. That will still be more cost effective (paying £40 per month x 12) than paying a connection, activation and build charge (£250 + £100 + £500-2000 + VAT)
Monthly Contracts & Packages
15. How much is it per month?
Our basic package is £40 inc Vat per month on a 12 month Contract.
This provides average speed of 40Mbps Download & 40Mbps Upload
There are no Data Limits or Usage restrictions.
We recommend people start on this package (or a similar business package) as we can easily upgrade you later, but cant downgrade the service mid contract.
This is a Broadband only package, no telephone.
Payment is via Direct Debit, in Advance.
16. What about Telephone & Line Rental?
For many people a Landline isnt needed once they have fast broadband as you can use technology like “WiFi Calling” on your mobile phone.
If you still want a traditional fixed line phone service you can sign up for a VoIP package – Voice over IP or Telephone over Broadband in simple terms.
With VoIP there is no Line Rental charge, you just use the Fibre Broadband to access a third party service such as Sipgate Basic
With Sipgate, once you have signed up (Free) and activated your account(via Post) you have a phone service which can be used in different ways:
a) you can use this service and Port your existing landline number to it, and cancel your copper phone line while keeping your local number
b) you can connect your current telephone handset using an Adapter
c) you can use an App on a smart phone for your landline calls.
Sipgate Basic allows free incoming calls and as standard you pay for outgoing calls per minute. Alternatively you can add an Unlimited Call package for £9.50 per month for unlimited landline and UK mobile calls.
This works out much cheaper than a traditional phone line and is also much more reliable as there is no issue with water, tree rub or other faults.
We have produced a guide to help here which explains the costs in more detail.
17. Does in work in a Power Cut?
Our cabinet and active electronics can operate for upto 96 hours without power, and we can connect a generator for longer periods if required.
In your property, if there is no power then the Fibre will not work, the ONT and the Router need power.
If you are using VoIP for phones then this will also not work.
The solution for this is to us a Battery Backup device or UPS, these are relatively cheap and can keep the Fibre (& phone) working for many hours depending on the usage. We can provide some advice on this setup to help you.
VoIP services also work with emergency calls & 999 as normal.
18. Can I keep my existing ISP?
Currently we are both the network builder and the retail ISP, in time other ISP’s may offer service on our Fibre Network, but at present we are the only option.
19. Will the price go up after 12 months?
We cant guarantee what the future pricing will be, however Ofcom Code of Practise requires us to offer an affordable package which needs to be around £45 per month and should be over 30Mbps download.
In keeping with this we will anticipate that our basic broadband package will always be broadly in line with the Ofcom Code of Practise.
The other point to note is we aim to provide excellent customer service and support so we can keep you as customers. There is nothing for us too gain from building this fibre network then loosing customers from price increases or bad service.
20. What if something happens to your business?
We are not funded on debt, but should the business fail for any reason, the fibre network that connects you would be purchased quickly by another operator, especially a network with active customers.