What is the scheme for?
The Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme has been developed by the UK government to provide access to a subsidised broadband installation to homes and businesses that are unable to access a broadband service with a download speed of at least 2Mbps and who will not benefit from the superfast broadband roll out. If you currently experience poor broadband speeds, or are unable to obtain an affordable broadband service at all, the scheme will provide you with access to a basic broadband service that will offer speeds of at least 2Mbps. The Scheme has been developed by the UK government to ensure that every household and business in the UK can access an affordable basic broadband service. We define an affordable service as one that costs no more than £400 a year including installation, equipment and monthly fee.
Who is eligible?
Any household or business who cannot access an affordable basic broadband service with a download speed of at least 2Mbps.
How do I check if I'm eligible?
You will be eligible to benefit from the scheme, and will be issued with a code, if you currently experience poor broadband speeds (i.e. broadband download speeds of less than 2Mbps), or you are unable to obtain an affordable broadband service at all, providing that:
(a) your home or business is not currently able to access a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps;
(b) there are no alternative affordable broadband services available to you, which would provide a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps;
• we will ask you to confirm on your application that to the best of your knowledge, there are no alternative affordable broadband services available to you, which would provide you with a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps;
• we will also ask you to confirm that you do not already have a satellite broadband service at your address;
• we will check our records of existing and planned coverage of broadband services to confirm that there are no alternative affordable broadband services available to you, which would provide you with a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps;
• if we believe there may be an alternative affordable broadband service available to you, which may be able to provide you with a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps, we will refer you to the relevant provider for you to obtain that service (and not issue you with a code under the scheme). However, if an alternative affordable broadband service is not actually available to you, we will consider issuing you with a code under the scheme (subject to the other eligibility tests described here), and add your postcode to our list of those where we are proposing make codes available, which we will make publicly available to service providers for consultation.
• Note: adding post codes to our list of those where we are proposing to make codes available, and making that list publicly available to service providers for consultation, is a condition of the European Union’s State Aid Decision, which provides clearance for the scheme, and is designed to prevent publicly-subsidised broadband schemes ‘crowding out’ private investment in making broadband services available.
(c) there are no plans to provide superfast Broadband to you within 6 months of your application;
• we will check our roll-out plans for superfast broadband to see whether you are likely to benefit within 6 months of your application;
• if you are likely to benefit from superfast broadband within 6 months of your application, you may not wish to enter into a minimum 12 month contract with a satellite broadband retail service provider under the scheme, and may prefer to wait until superfast Broadband becomes available to you;
• we will advise you of when superfast Broadband is likely to be available, and if this is within 6 months of your application, then we will not issue you with a code under the scheme. However, if you are unlikely to benefit from superfast Broadband within 6 months of your application (i.e. superfast Broadband availability is more than 6 months away, or not yet planned), we will issue you with a code under the scheme.
What are my other options for Better Broadband?
You may already be able to access superfast broadband services. You can check current availability of superfast broadband services in your area using the availability checker on our homepage; if you find broadband services are still not available in your area then you can check where and when they will by viewing our coverage maps.
You may be able to get a 4G mobile broadband connection. You can check current availability of 4G mobile broadband services at the Ofcom Mobile Coverage Checker.
Currently, there are three satellite operators providing services to Oxfordshire residents through the UK government subsidy scheme, you can check whether they cover your area at their websites:
- http://avonlinebroadband.com - Avonline
- https://www.europasat.com - Europasat
- http://ruralbroadband.co.uk/ - Rural Broadband
In some parts of Oxfordshire, there are local wireless broadband service providers. You can check whether they cover your area at their websites:
- https://6ginternet.com/subsidy - 6G Internet
- http://wireless.abinternet.co.uk/ABInternet/ - AB Internet
- http://countrysidebroadband.co.uk/index.html - Countryside Broadband
- http://www.quickline.co.uk/- Quickline
- http://www.sugarnet.co.uk - Sugarnet
- http://www.vnworks.net - Village Networks
- http://wurzelweb.com/ - Wurzel
- https://www.yonet-telecom.com/ - Yonet Telecom
If you are local wireless broadband provider in Oxfordshire, and would like to be added to this list, please email us your name and website address to: email@example.com.
What will the scheme provide?
The scheme will provide a unique code that you will be able to present to one of a selected number of retail service providers to obtain a better basic broadband service.
You will need to place an order with one of the selected retail service providers, and enter into a contract for satellite broadband services provision for a minimum period of 12 months.
The code will cover most of the cost of installation and commissioning of your satellite broadband service. You will be responsible for paying any remaining cost of installation and commissioning (if any), for choosing the features of the satellite broadband service you require, and for paying the monthly subscription for the service you have selected, and for paying any VAT on the amounts payable.
The code does not have a specific fixed value, but when used to obtain a satellite broadband service from one of the selected retail service providers, the use of the code will reduce the total cost (i.e. installation and commissioning costs plus 12 monthly subscriptions) by around £350. The code has no other value, and cannot be redeemed in any other way than through the scheme.
What quality of broadband can I expect from the Scheme?
This will depend on a number of factors including the type of broadband package you choose to buy and whether you decide to take up a satellite or a wireless broadband service, if this is available in your area. Satellite broadband can deliver speeds of 10Mbps (or significantly more) but the speed is not guaranteed throughout the day and packages usually have monthly data caps. You will need to consider how much data you are likely to require and the monthly costs of different packages. Some satellite packages allow you to transfer data overnight without adding to the monthly costs. You will also experience a short time delay with satellite broadband as the broadband signal has to travel to the satellite and back to Earth. This may take a bit of getting used to. Wireless broadband performs in a similar way to broadband delivered over the telephone network but the quality of the service will vary dependent on the product selected. Wireless broadband is only available in certain parts of the country.
Where can I find more information about the scheme?
More information on the national scheme can be found on the DCMS website.
How do I decide whether to apply?
You can obtain information on the scheme by reading this guide, and from the DCMS and Oxfordshire websites (links above), which should help you to decide whether to apply to benefit from the scheme. If you have any queries on the scheme, you can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When can I apply?
The scheme launched in Oxfordshire on December 2015, and will be available for applications from launch until the end of 2017.
· You can register with the scheme now and will be provided with a voucher code which you can use.
· Satellite broadband services provided under the scheme will be available to use until (at least) 2022.
How do I apply?
You can apply to benefit from the better basic broadband scheme by completing a simple online application form. Please read the 'Guidance note on satellite broadband' (pdf format, 661Kb) before completing the online application form.
You will need to provide us with your postal address (including your post code) and the main fixed line telephone number at that address (if you have one). You will also need to provide your name and other contact details (e.g. your mobile phone number, email address, etc). You will need to confirm that you are the owner or occupier at that address (we cannot accept applications from anyone that is not the owner/occupier).
We will ask you whether you currently have a broadband service at your address, and what broadband speeds you currently experience. We will check whether your home or business will benefit from our superfast Broadband roll-out, and advise you whether or not you will be eligible to benefit from this scheme.
We will also ask you to confirm that to the best of your knowledge, there are no alternative affordable broadband services available to you, which would provide you with a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps. We will also ask you to confirm that you do not already have a satellite broadband service at your address.
Do I have to take out a contract?
Yes. You are required to sign a contract with your chosen supplier for a minimum of 12 months. If you want to terminate within the first year you may have to pay a termination fee and repay the subsidy you have benefitted from.
Can the Subsidy be used to support fibre broadband?
One of the suppliers offering services through the scheme is BT, via its Community Fibre Partnerships scheme. The subsidy can be used to support coverage delivered through a Community Fibre Partnerships project, but the project has to be ready to go live at the time when the eligibility code is claimed(otherwise, the subsidy scheme would not be providing access in a timely way to an improved service).
I am in a superfast rollout area but will not be upgraded for a long time and my speed is less than 2Mbps. Am I eligible?
You may be eligible for a subsidised broadband connection as an interim fix if the planning to bring superfast to your property has not yet started.
Superfast broadband is planned to be delivered to my area. Why do I have to wait rather than get a subsidy now?
There are strict rules around spending public funding to support the delivery of broadband services. The government cannot publicly fund two solutions to the same property within the same 6 months.
If I apply to the scheme and take a better basic broadband service, will I still be considered for superfast Broadband deployment?
Yes. Taking a satellite broadband service under the scheme has no effect on our plans for further deployment of superfast Broadband, and your premises will be included within those plans, whether you take a satellite broadband service under the scheme, or you choose not to do so.
How will I know the outcome of my application?
We will aim to make a decision on your application as quickly as possible (within one month of receiving your completed application), and we will advise you of the outcome of your application by email.
· If we decide to issue you with a code under the scheme, we will send you a unique code via email, together with the list of the satellite broadband retail service providers currently operating under the scheme, and their contacts details.
· If we decide not to issue you with a code under the scheme, we will send you an email with the reasons for our decision.
Can I appeal against a decision not to issue me with a code?
If you are not satisfied with our decision not to issue you with a code under the scheme, and the reasons we have given for that decision, you may submit one appeal by email setting-out the grounds for your appeal, and why you believe we should have issued you with a code. We will review our decision in the light of your appeal, and will make a final decision on whether or not to issue you with a code under the scheme. We not able to consider more than one appeal in relation to any one applicant.
How do I use the code?
Once you have received a unique code, and the list of satellite broadband retail service providers currently operating under the scheme, you should review the products and prices available from each provider, to select the product that best meets your requirements and the amount of monthly subscriptions you are willing to pay.
You should then approach your chosen satellite broadband retail service provider to order the service you require, and provide them with your unique code. The satellite broadband retail service provider will confirm the features of the product you have chosen, and the costs involved in a minimum 12 months service contract, after the code has been taken into account.
The code will cover most of the cost of installation and commissioning of your satellite broadband service. You will be responsible for paying any remaining cost of installation and commissioning (if any), and paying the monthly subscription for the service you have selected, and for paying any VAT on the amounts payable.
Can I use the code with retail service providers that are not part of the scheme?
No, the code can only be used with satellite broadband retail service providers operating under the scheme. Other satellite broadband retail service providers may join the scheme after launch, and you will be advised of the list of satellite broadband retail service providers currently operating under the scheme at the time that you are issued with you unique code.
Other satellite broadband retail service providers not operating under the scheme may also offer services in your area, and you may choose to use such an alternative satellite broadband retail service provider, but you will not be able to use a code issued under the scheme with that alternative provider, and you will have to meet the full cost of installation and commissioning and using the service yourself.
Who operates the scheme?
The scheme to deliver the 2Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC) is operated by a partnership between DCMS, Local Bodies, including Oxfordshire County Council, BT, a number of satellite broadband retail service providers, and a number of satellite broadband platform providers. The national scheme is operated under a Framework Contract awarded to BT by DCMS.
The scheme in Oxfordshire is operated under a Local Call-off Contract (under the national Framework Contract) awarded to BT by Oxfordshire. DCMS have overall responsibility for implementing the Government’s policy on the 2Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC), works with BT to operate the national scheme, and works with Local Bodies to ensure that the scheme is implemented consistently across the UK.
· DCMS and Local Bodies provide matched public funding for the operation of the scheme through the Local Call-off Contracts.
· BT acts as a supplier to DCMS/Local Bodies as a wholesales provider of satellite broadband services, working with the satellite broadband platform providers, and a number of satellite broadband retail services providers.
· Applications under the scheme and decisions to award codes in Oxfordshire are made by the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire Programme team, using a nationally agreed process and eligibility criteria.
· DCMS provides a central process for creating a unique code (which are issued to Oxfordshire County Council), and for assuring payments between the partners operating the scheme.
Satellite broadband retail service providers operating under the scheme claim code payments from BT, with BT billing Local Bodies for codes issued on a monthly basis.
Please read the 'Guidance note on satellite broadband' (pdf format, 661Kb) before completing the online application form.
Guidance for communities on aggregating Better Basic Broadband Subsidy Scheme codes to offset the cost of an enhanced broadband network
This guidance is for owners or occupiers of premises who are eligible under the Better Basic Broadband Subsidy Scheme and wish to work with a broadband provider to co-fund a broadband network in their community rather than use their subsidy code to take up a discounted satellite or 4G broadband connection or to access an existing wireless network. Guidance for communities (pdf, 16Kb)