Homes and businesses in Cornwall are being offered broadband upgrades paid for by the government - and the more people that sign up the more likely you are to get it.

The government has launched the Broadband Upgrade Fund as a pilot scheme in selected rural areas of the UK: Cornwall, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Cumbria and Northumberland.

People can register their interest on the government fund website and also become a 'community co-ordinator' to rally interest in their area - because the more people that sign up, the better chance they have of getting the upgrades.

Rural residents and businesses that are classed as small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who have broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps could be eligible for the Broadband Upgrade Fund.

Each resident can is worth funding up to £1,500 and each SME business is worth funding up to £3,500.

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However, it is only available when used in group projects - but groups can be a mix of residents and businesses, just residents or just businesses.

The funding goes to suppliers to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections.

You can check if you're eligible for the Broadband Upgrade Fund by entering your postcode here.

The deadline for registering interest is September 30.

Falmouth Packet:

A map showing where people and businesses in Cornwall have already signed up to the broadband upgrade scheme. Image: Broadband Upgrade Fund website

On the fund website it states: "To ensure the hardest-to-reach areas are not left behind and can access improved broadband services, the government has introduced a pilot campaign for homes and businesses in three rural areas of the UK, called the Broadband Upgrade Fund, as part of the national Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

"The aim is to help capture public interest in faster, more reliable broadband in each of the pilot areas. This will encourage suppliers to extend their broadband networks to meet demand and the government will help to fund the cost of the work."

Here's what you need to know:

How does the Broadband Upgrade Fund work?

The Broadband Upgrade Fund website allows residents and business owners to register interest for government funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their property. The demand in an area will be shown with pins on a map.

At the same time the website map will also show suppliers which areas are keen for upgrades, with the aim of making it more attractive for them to build there.

Who gets the funding?

Once you have created enough interest in your area or community, the fund that you generate goes direct to your chosen supplier to offset the cost of delivering the improved service.

Will you have to pay towards the installation costs?

In most cases, the funding provided will pay for the cost of installing the new broadband, provided enough properties are in the group.

The website states that this is why it is important for people to encourage as many of their neighbours as possible to sign up and increase the size of their fund.

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Sometimes the community may be asked to make a contribution to the overall cost if the funding does not cover it, but people do not have to proceed further if they think that it is too much money.

What can you expect to pay per month for upgraded broadband?

It depends on the broadband package that you have currently, the supplier that you use and whether your contract is part of a ‘bundle’ deal.

The website states some people find they are paying a bit more each month for much faster broadband and some people find they are paying less.

You can look at prices on comparison websites and for further advice go to:

How long will the process take?

People are asked to register their interest by September 30, 2020. After that, if a supplier is interested in bringing better broadband to a particular area, the whole process from contract to connection could take up to a year but it could be less, depending on how near you are to the nearest town, your current broadband infrastructure and the supplier you use.

What is the role of a Community Co-ordinator?

This is to act as a voluntary intermediary between any suppliers who might wish to build better broadband to your area and your community. It might involve attending some meetings or getting a small group together in your community to support the project. You could also ask for support from someone from your local council.