BT and Avanti agree deal as government satellite broadband voucher scheme prepares to launch
Plans to bring superfast broadband to homes and businesses not covered by existing Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fibre deployments have moved a step closer after satellite operator Avanti agreed a contract with BT to become a supplier for its wholesale Internet services.
Up to 300,000 properties will be eligible for government vouchers that will cover the cost of a satellite dish and modem installation, with the scheme going live later this month. Trials in Suffolk and West Yorkshire have already taken place with the involvement of four suppliers.
“We welcome this significant intervention by government to ensure that the Universal Service Commitment is met and we are pleased to serve the best interests of the UK consumer” said David Williams, CEO of Avanti.
Existing broadband projects like BDUK and the Super Connected City voucher scheme, which provides grants of up to £3,000 to small businesses to upgrade their connectivity, have so far connected more than three million premises.
BDUK is confident of reaching its target of covering 95 percent of the UK with superfast broadband by 2017, but this still leaves around 1.5 million homes and businesses excluded, leading to fears of the emergence of a “digital divide” between urban and rural areas.
“Our rollout of superfast broadband has already reached an additional 3.5 million homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out,” added Ed Vaziey, minister for the digital economy. “We are making tremendous progress, but it’s a massive engineering project and won’t happen overnight.
“This scheme offers immediate assistance to those homes and businesses in the most remote areas with the slowest speeds and is all part of our transformation of the UK’s digital landscape.”