Getting an interim Basic Broadband service

A guide for those who may wish to apply to benefit from the scheme


What is the scheme for?


If you currently experience poor broadband speeds, or you are unable to obtain an affordable broadband service at all, the scheme will provide you with access to an alternative broadband service that will offer speeds of at least 2Mbps.

The Scheme is intended as an interim solution for premises that are currently unable to access broadband download speeds of at least 2Mbps to provide you with a useable broadband service, pending the future availability of Superfast Broadband services in your area.

The Scheme fulfils a Government commitment first made in December 2010, when the Government announced public funding to extend Superfast Broadband beyond the reach of commercial deployment to 90% of UK premises. The 2Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC) was to offer a service providing broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps for anyone yet to benefit from Superfast Broadband by the end of 2015. The Government subsequently made further public funding available to raise the target for Superfast Broadband coverage to 95% of UK premises by the end of 2017.


What are my other options for Better Broadband?


You may already be able to access Superfast Broadband services. You can check current and planned availability of Superfast Broadband services in Suffolk elsewhere on this website: www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com/LineCheck.aspx

Alternatively, you can check Superfast Broadband availability on the Government’s website: www.gov.uk/dcms

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: www.ofcom.org.uk/mobile-coverage

In some parts of Suffolk, there are local wireless broadband service providers. You can check whether they cover your area at their websites:


If you are local wireless broadband provider in Suffolk, and would like to be added to this list, please email us your name and website address to: broadband@suffolk.gov.uk


What will the scheme provide?


The Scheme will provide a ‘voucher’ (actually, a unique code) that you will be able to present to one of a selected number of retail service providers to obtain a satellite 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 voucher 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 voucher 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 voucher will reduce the total cost (ie installation and commissioning costs plus 12 monthly subscriptions) by around £300. The voucher has no other value, and cannot be redeemed in any other way than through the Scheme.


Where can I find more information about the Scheme?


More information on the national Scheme can be found on the DCMS website at: www.gov.uk/dcms

More information on the operation of the scheme in Suffolk can be found on the Suffolk Better Broadband Programme website at: www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com


How do I decide whether to apply?


You can obtain information on the Scheme by reading this guide, and from the DCMS and Suffolk 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 broadband@suffolk.gov.uk


Can I apply?


You can apply to benefit from the Scheme if you currently experience poor broadband speeds (ie download broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps), or you are unable to obtain an affordable broadband service at all.


Where can I apply?


The national Scheme will be launched by the end of 2015, and will be available for applications from launch until the end of 2017.

Suffolk will be piloting the Scheme, which we aim to start to make available for applications during the autumn 2015, until the end of 2017.

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 Scheme by completing a simple online application form at: www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com

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 (eg 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.


Will I be eligible to benefit from the Scheme?


You will be eligible to benefit from the Scheme, and will be issued with a voucher, if you currently experience poor broadband speeds (ie broadband download speeds of less than 2Mbps), or you are unable to obtain an affordable broadband service at all, providing that:

  • A) We determine that 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 voucher under the Scheme). However, if an alternative affordable broadband service is not actually available to you, we will consider issuing you with a voucher under the Scheme (subject to the other eligibility tests described here), and add your post code to our list of those where we are proposing make vouchers 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 vouchers 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 12 months of your application;

we will check our roll-out plans for Superfast Broadband to see whether you are likely to benefit within 12 months of your application;

if you are likely to benefit from Superfast Broadband within 12 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 12 months of your application, then we will not issue you with a voucher under the Scheme. However, if you are unlikely to benefit from Superfast Broadband within 12 months of your application (ie Superfast Broadband availability is more than 12 months away, or not yet planned), we will issue you with a voucher under the Scheme.


If I apply to the Scheme and take a satellite 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 voucher under the Scheme, we will send you a unique voucher 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 voucher 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 voucher


If you are not satisfied with our decision not to issue you with a voucher 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 voucher. 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 voucher under the Scheme. We not able to consider more than one appeal in relation to any one applicant.


How do I use the voucher?


Once you have received a unique voucher 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 voucher 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 voucher has been taken into account.

The voucher 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 voucher with retail service providers that are not part of the Scheme?


No, the voucher 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 voucher 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 voucher 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.

The latest list of suppliers is shown below:


https://www.satelliteinternet.co.uk/broadband-for-all


Who operates the Scheme?


The Scheme to deliver the 2Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC) is operated by a partnership between DCMS, Local Bodies (Suffolk County Council for Suffolk), 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 Suffolk is operated under a Local Call-off Contract (under the national Framework Contract) awarded to BT by Suffolk County Council (‘Suffolk’).

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 (like Suffolk) to ensure that the Scheme is implemented consistently across the UK.

DCMS and Local Bodies (Suffolk) 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 (Suffolk) 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 vouchers in Suffolk are made by Suffolk County Council, using a nationally agreed process and eligibility criteria.

DCMS provides a central process for creating unique voucher codes (which are issued by Local Bodies (Suffolk)), and for assuring payments between the partners operating the Scheme.

Satellite broadband retail service providers operating under the Scheme claim voucher payments from BT, with BT billing Local Bodies (Suffolk) for vouchers issued on a monthly basis.


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