What is the RGC Programme?
The RGC (Rural Gigabit Connectivity) Programme is the second scheme from the DCMS, designed to help fund Full Fibre installations for those in the most rural of areas and deliver better broadband to your home or business.
How is it different from the Gigabit Voucher Scheme?
The RGC Programme is aimed at properties that have broadband speeds of less than 30 Mb/s (in comparison to the Gigabit Voucher Scheme which is available to any property that doesn’t already have a FTTP connection). This means that if you live in a community that suffers from a slow internet connection, the RGC voucher could be a good fit for you.
Essentially, the big difference from the previous scheme is that RGC vouchers are worth more, to reflect how much it costs to get Fibre to the most rural of areas.
Am I eligible?
Vouchers are available to any property or SME in eligible rural postcodes with less than 30 Mb/s.
How much is the RGC voucher worth?
For residential properties: up to £1,500 (VAT included, meaning NO upfront costs)
For businesses: up to £3,500 + VAT (VAT not claimable)
- Full install with Gigabit Wireless Router
- 12 month contract
- Capable speed of 1000 Mb/s
What is the Gigabit Voucher Scheme?
The Gigabit Voucher Scheme is a nationwide voucher scheme with £67m available across the country on a first come first served basis. The grants come in two parts:
- SME Business Grant: up to £2,500 (+ VAT paid by Business) for any SME without existing FTTP connection
- Residential Grant: Anywhere an SME Grant is claimed, up to 6 Residential properties may claim a £500 grant (+VAT paid by resident)
What counts as an SME?
According to the European Court of Justice, an enterprise is ‘any entity engaged in an economic activity, irrespective of its legal form’.
An ‘Economic Activity’ is usually seen as ‘the sale of products or services at a given price, on a given market’.
In practice, this means that self-employed people, family firms, partnerships and associations or any other entity that is regularly engaged in an economic activity may be considered as enterprises.
For an Enterprise to be considered an SME it must employ fewer than 250 people and either have a turnover of less than €50 million or a balance sheet of less than €43 million.
For the purpose of the scheme, you will be asked to confirm you are an SME after we submit your application form; normally this will be just a simple confirmation although the council may ask for documented proof of business activity. If you’re still unsure then fill in our registration of interest here and our sales team will be happy to help you.
Aren’t government grant schemes like this complicated to apply for?
The DCMS have worked very hard to make this “micro” grant as easy for businesses as possible. As a result we deal with all of the hassle on your behalf. Just accept our quote, confirm your identity with the DCMS by email and we do the rest!
Click here to see an infographic of how we’ll hold your hand through our easy 7 Step Process to get you “on the fibre”.
Ok, so how do I register for a voucher?
Rather than applying for one or the other, just visit our “I Want Full Fibre” page, fill out the relevant form (residential or business) to register your interest in ultrafast Full Fibre broadband and we’ll let you know the best option for your property.
How will the Wessex Internet voucher process work?
In short, you submit an enquiry, we send you a quote, we apply for your voucher on your behalf and then install your service. All you need to do is pay the VAT portion of the bill (unless it’s an RGC Residential Voucher, which includes VAT) when you pay your first subscription invoice (as long as we can reach you within the cost of your voucher)!
In full, once we’ve applied for your voucher, we need to make sure we have enough vouchers in your area to cover the cost of your deployment, so we will treat your enquiry in one of these three categories:
- Community Voucher Quote: If we have an existing community scheme running in your area we will add your grant to the pot for that scheme and keep you updated on the progress. As soon as we reach the signup threshold we will start the planning phase and installation.
- Dependent Voucher Quote: We will issue you a voucher for your installation but you will be required to help source several other people to also claim a voucher in your area to support the rollout costs. If there aren’t any other claimants in the area, we will give you an option for the surplus network contribution you would need to pay on top of the voucher. Even if you’ve signed an order form, you will still have the option to back out at the point we confirm the additional cost you would have to pay.
- Standalone Gigabit Voucher Quote (only applicable for the £2,500 Business Gigabit Voucher): This applies if you are within a few hundred meters of our existing network and the £2,500 Gigabit Voucher covers the cost of your install without needing to get your neighbours to join in for further subsidy. It’s likely these vouchers will be installed within a number of weeks from voucher acceptance, subject to land access (see below).
How do you cross the land between your fibre and my business?
Our network has been built by mole-ploughing our direct buried cables crossing open farmland. It gives us numerous benefits to the traditional highways route taken by most utilities, including:
- The direct route means we don’t have to close roads causing problems for local traffic as we build our network.
- Crossing open ground is lower cost meaning we can do more with your voucher.
- Buried cables are invisible once installed so aren’t the eyesore on the landscape that poles present.
The key to this method is getting landowners to agree to land access that enables local schemes without costly wayleave fees. The landowner benefits from the same fast connection that other people in the community get and their connection is only possible at such a low cost because of the upstream landowners with whom we have similar agreements. This approach allows us to bring superfast speeds to more people for less; we believe it’s a model that is fair to everyone; and has, over the last nine years, had the support of all of our host landowners so far.
If you, the grant applicant, are the property owner, we will need you to grant us the right to lay and maintain the cable to your property, as well as on to the next property if required. Where we have to cross third party land to get to you we will discuss the access directly with the landowner. If you know them and are able to have the initial conversation about getting yourself connected, it always helps us to have an introduction.
I think BT already installed fibre to my area and my service still isn’t great; why is this any different?
Unless BT have told you they are installing FTTP to your premises then it’s highly likely that you’ve just got ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ (we’ve heard some people call this “fake fibre”, but that isn’t something we could possibly comment on!).
What it really means is you still have a copper line from that cabinet to your home. In the countryside that is usually strung along poles ’round the houses’ and under trees. By the time it gets to you, the fibre stuck in the cabinet doesn’t always make much difference. Either way, it will never do more than around 80Mb/s – less than 1/10th of the speed our Gigabit FTTP service is capable of!
WI’s Gigabit FTTP (Fibre To The (your) Premises) is off our own 350km fibre network that stretches across Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and Hampshire. FTTP is the Rolls-Royce, futureproof solution and can’t even be compared to FTTC. If you haven’t already got it, then this grant is the opportunity to push your business or property into the Digital Future.
Am I committed to taking Wessex Internet service after the install?
You will be required to sign up to one of our 100Mb/s+ services for at least 12 months to be eligible for the voucher. However, our install won’t remove your existing BT line, so after that you would theoretically be free to go back to another provider on your BT line if you ever wanted to, although we doubt you’ll want to!
How quickly will I get connected?
We are required to connect you within 12 months of being awarded a voucher; however we obviously expect to connect most people much quicker than that. It does entirely depend on what other vouchers are required for your install and how far you are from our network. Once you’ve submitted your enquiry, we will let you know.
If you’ve got any more questions please drop us a line to email@example.com or call the sales office and we’ll try to answer your questions.
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