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A £2m trial designed to accelerate the rate at which Full Fibre networks are available across the UK has already attracted its first customer, who was visited by Matt Hancock MP Minister for Digital.

Telecoms provider HighNet is one of 17 companies so far confirmed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to be part of the £2 million trial which is taking place in four areas around the UK, including Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

(l to r) – technology and innovation director at HighNet David Alldritt, Matt Hancock Minister for Digital (UKGov), manager of The Bauhaus Hotel, Brian Brechin, and David J Siegel, managing director of HighNet

Under the scheme, suppliers will be offering vouchers worth between £500 and £3,000 each to local businesses which can then be used to pay for the installation of gigabit (Gb) speed connections. The aim of the pilot is to encourage the market to extend full fibre infrastructure in the UK by increasing demand and reducing the cost to customers.

The vouchers will cover the normal charges for installation, including hardware and on-site engineer visits. Businesses can also pool their vouchers to help build clusters of connectivity and further reduce costs.

HighNet has attracted the first customer UK-wide, The Bauhaus Hotel in Aberdeen. Both companies were delighted to host a visit by the minister.

Minister for Digital Matt Hancock said:

“Full fibre is fundamental for fashioning a Britain fit for the future, so I’m incredibly excited to visit the Bauhaus Hotel in Aberdeen which is the first place in the whole country to benefit from our new gigabit speed business broadband vouchers.

“We are working closely with Aberdeenshire council, local MPs and broadband providers on this UK Government programme. World class connectivity is increasingly essential to people at work and at home. Last week we announced further funding to make these gigabit broadband vouchers available to businesses across the country next year.

“It’s all part of a plan to support the UK’s future competitiveness in the global market and our ability to attract investment.”

David Alldritt, technology and innovation director at HighNet, said: “We are delighted to be a Government-registered supplier for this landmark scheme and to have attracted its first ever customer. We believe this scheme will be instrumental in improving connectivity, enabling businesses to utilize new technologies to drive productivity and growth. We welcome the minister’s direct interest and his commitment to modernising the UK’s digital infrastructure.”

Brian Brechin, manager of The Bauhaus Hotel, said: “This voucher scheme is an excellent boost to our plans to improve connectivity and provide our guests with an enhanced visitor experience. We appreciate the personal interest the minister has taken in visiting with us and we look forward to benefiting from our Gigabit fibre in the near future.”

Gb connectivity will allow firms to upload and download huge files in seconds and future-proof businesses in the face of ever-increasing demands for internet speed and reliability. It will also allow companies in remoter areas to compete with those based in cities where full fibre connectivity may already be installed.

Four areas across the UK will pilot the scheme to test infrastructure conditions – Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire; Bristol, with Bath and North East Somerset; Coventry and Warwickshire and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York)

The test phase will end when the money is used up, or by the end of March 2019, whichever is sooner.

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