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What is a gigabit? What is the gigabit voucher scheme?

The government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme launched in March 2018 and has proved extremely popular with homeowners and small businesses in rural areas of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. If you’re not sure what it’s all about, this blog explains how it works and why you should get involved.

What is a gigabit?

First things first, it’s probably best that we explain what a gigabit is. When you use the internet in any way, data is transferred between your device and others. For instance, uploading photos to your social media channels or watching a movie online both require the exchange of data. The data is measured in megabits, with the speed determined by how many megabits your connection can download per second – this is referred to as Mbps. Download speeds greater than 30Mbps are considered superfast, whereas those above 300Mbps are ultrafast.

A gigabit is one thousand megabits, so a gigabit connection can download at least one gigabit per second, or 1,000Mbps. Needless to say, this kind of speed is highly sought-after and makes an enormous difference to your online experience.

What is the gigabit voucher scheme?

The government wants the UK to be a world leader in digital innovation, making the rolling out of superfast internet access across the country a necessity. Rural areas are always the hardest places to bring superfast internet to due to their remote locations, which is why £5 billion of government funding has been invested into hard to reach locations.

As part of the scheme, the government awards subsidised contracts to broadband providers, making it much easier for them to give rural communities access to  lightning fast internet. Homeowners and business owners based in these areas can then apply for a gigabit voucher to pay towards the cost.

Will a gigabit connection make a difference?

The short answer is yes, absolutely! The longer answer is that a gigabit connection is the best of the best and allows a home to access the highest internet speeds available. This means multiple members of the household can go online at the same time without any pauses or sudden disconnections.

A gigabit internet connection is also highly practical, as it allows you to kit out your home with modern security systems, home assistants and other internet-capable devices that simplify contemporary living. A slow internet speed doesn’t have enough power to accommodate multiple smart home devices, which is why the gigabit voucher scheme has had such an amazing uptake from people living in rural regions.

Examples of what a gigabit connection can do

To give you an even clearer idea of what a gigabit connection can achieve on a daily basis, here are some common scenarios:

  • Streaming services: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, BritBox, YouTube and any other streaming service will run perfectly smoothly without any annoying buffering. You also won’t encounter any issues when watching 4K Ultra HD movies.
  • Online gaming: All kinds of online games can be enjoyed without any slow ping rates, lags or weak connections. This really matters to avid gamers and Twitch streamers when literally half a second can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
  • Immersive media: Virtual reality headsets are becoming a perfectly normal addition to modern households, as they invite the wearer to become immersed in a wide range of games, 360-degree videos and educational platforms. With a gigabit connection, the experience is smoother, more realistic and truly amazing.
  • Work from home: Whether you work from home only now and then or five days a week, a gigabit connection will benefit everything from Office 365 and video meetings to sending large attachments and downloading files. You can also multitask to full effect, as your connection will never let you down.
  • Cloud backup: Today the cloud is used for securely storing all kinds of things, such as personal and business-related files, photos, videos and other types of data. Both uploading and downloading files can take a long time with a standard internet package, whereas a gigabit connection will get it done in a jiffy.

Am I eligible for a gigabit voucher?

The gigabit voucher scheme is available to homes and businesses in rural locations that come together as a group to request a new gigabit connection. The existing broadband speed must be less than 100Mbps and the likelihood of a gigabit connection being built there in the near future needs to be minor.

If all of these criteria apply, the gigabit vouchers are worth £1,500 per home and up to £3,500 per SME, which will go towards the cost of installing the gigabit network in that area. A group project is when two or more residents or businesses come together to combine their gigabit vouchers – the more who apply for a voucher, the more money there will be to contribute towards the installation costs.

What does the process involve?

Extending a gigabit connection to a new area is no mean feat, as it requires plenty of in-depth research, expert planning, an official project proposal and government approval. As such, the activation of a gigabit voucher takes the following step-by-step process:

  • You find a registered supplier and sign up for a gigabit capable connection.
  • Your supplier requests a voucher from the government.
  • Your supplier begins creating the network for your new connection.
  • The connection is finished and your supplier lets the government know.
  • The government checks with you via email that you’re happy with your new internet service.
  • You enjoy lightning fast broadband from home and the government sometimes makes further checks to make sure everything is working as it should be.

Gigabit connections make life easier

To wrap it all up, applying for a gigabit voucher is a very wise move, as it makes life easier in so many ways. Thanks to extremely fast internet speeds, members of your household will never have to argue over whose turn it is to stream a movie or play a game, as your connection will be able to handle anything. This also means that you can kit out your home and garden with as many smart gadgets as you wish – maybe it’s time to treat yourself to an internet-enabled hot tub that can be heated using your smartphone?

Gigabit speeds also help to reduce stress, as one of the greatest causes of minor irritation in the modern world is having to wait for a webpage to load or a video to stop buffering. When everything works the way it should, life really does become smoother and more enjoyable.

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