Connecting the community to the network


Stop Press: At the end of 2021 HCB secured additional Gov. voucher grant money under GBVS for most of the area illustrated on the map click here. If specific properties are excluded from GBVS funding new installations and connections can still be made but on an ‘at cost’ basis. Best discussed with a director ASAP.

Historial Funding
Rural broadband is not economically viable at market acceptable subscription rates hence the big telecoms have focussed their broadband efforts in urban areas. Fortunately for us, at about the same time as our inception, the delivery of broadband across the United Kingdom became a public objective. Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council provided HCB with seed capital in 2017 before we presented a community/business case to the residents of north Hampshire. In early 2018 the company raised sufficient capital pledges to work with Fibre Options Ltd to design and build a fibre network, physical work started mid year. By the time HCB started to connect customers, HCB’s network business plan was approved under the Gov’s recently launched GBVS with Fibre Options, (our partner and a registered Supplier under the scheme). The funding Scheme was designed to provide match-financing via vouchers to connect rural SMEs and adjoining residences.

The Scheme required pre registered Suppliers to seek approval for rural broadband rollout business plans. Once approved, would-be broadband customers applied for vouchers to secure individual broadband connections to businesses or residences, which if deemed eligible would result in a Gov pledge to pay the voucher monies to the Supplier once the customer received the service. Vouchers payable on residential connections were inclusive of VAT, but not on business connections, if the business was registered for VAT the VAT payable could be reclaimed, if not it would be the customer's cost of installation.

Between 2018 and 2021 the GBVS, as administered through the department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, underwent various reincarnations to provide voucher grant monies to registered Suppliers. Whilst the individual voucher payments changed over time the cap or maximum voucher monies allocated to the Supplier’s approved business plan didn’t change. In HCB’s case we used virtually all the funding allocated to us by the expiry date of the prevailing Voucher Scheme on 31st March 2021 by which time Hampshire County Council was providing top-up funding to the DCMS vouchers conditional on HCB waiving it's usual customer installation charge. HCB has 12 months from the issue of the DCMS vouchers to connect the said customers, after which the Gov.’s pledge to pay the voucher monies expires.

Present Funding
On 8th April 2021, central Gov. launched Project Gigabut, its latest GBVS funding regime, also administered by DCMS. The new regime looks very similar to the previous one, subject to a few tweaks on detail and a further £120m of funding. HCB is now a registered Supplier(Network Builder) in its own right. At the end of 2021 DCMS approved two HCB Projects, one to reach the remaining properties along the original network, and the second Project is to extend the network to reach Hannington and North Oakley.

We are working with adjoining communities and landowners to apply for voucher funding to expand the existing network and likewise with a couple of Hampshire rural communities to build stand-alone or ‘remote networks’ (i.e. with their own fibre feeds). 

Rural Hampshire communities interested to partner with HCB
We have a set of Guidance Notes to explain what is involved and how individuals in the community can apply for UK Gigabit vouchers helping themselves but also the community at large. The more businesses and homes to secure vouchers the easier it is to design, deliver and fund new networks.