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Community / Voucher scheme launched to help connect to superfast broadband

THE SCOTTISH Government has launched a voucher scheme offering up to £5,000 in grant funding to households and businesses outside the reach of the R100 programme that promises to connect everyone to superfast broadband by the end of 2021.

Interim vouchers of up to £400 are also being made available for premises where superfast broadband is planned for after the end of 2021 – with an additional £250 for those in the hardest-to-reach areas.

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An online postcode checker has been launched this week, and local politicians are urging islanders to make the most of it.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said: “The voucher scheme is due to launch in September and it will be important that islanders who have been left behind are able to benefit and get connected as soon as possible.”

The R100 scheme aims to connect everyone in Scotland to superfast broadband – speeds of at least 30Mbps.

The project has been suffering many delays along the way – including legal challenge – and the voucher scheme is one attempt at bridging the gap.

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Connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse said Scotland has some of the most challenging locations anywhere in Europe for providing telecoms infrastructure.

“I have always been clear that additional measures may still be needed to provide superfast access to some of the hardest-to-reach areas,” he said.

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson urged islanders to share the information about the availability of the voucher scheme with as many people as possible.

“It’s more essential than ever proper broadband availability is there for all, not just those in built up areas, but in rural and remote locations too,” he said.

The Digital Scotland postcode checker can be found at https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com

For those outwith the current R100 reach householders are told that there are no plans “to build a faster connection in your area at the moment” but that a voucher of up to £5,000 may be available to use for the cost of fitting a new, faster commercial broadband supply.

“Options could include things like fibre, wireless and more,” it says.

The voucher scheme launches in September and there is an application form available on the website.

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