The superfast broadband roll-outs both commercial and gap funded have made great strides in coverage but as superfast broadband becomes ever more important those still waiting for the roll-out to reach them are increasingly frustrated and double that frustration for businesses missing out.
To the rescue is a partnership of four councils who are making grants of up to £25,000 available for businesses to get installed bespoke next generation access (NGA). The four councils are Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Councils and Gloucestershire County Council.
This funding will enable us to provide funding support to those qualifying SMEs that cannot access superfast broadband.
The partnership between the four local authorities demonstrates a new approach to addressing the particular broadband requirements of businesses in these areas and is one of the largest grants of this type, both in terms of its geographical footprint and the amount available.
The ultimate aim of the grant is to enable economic growth in these locations by providing businesses with access to financial support to provide access to superfast speeds in excess of 30Mbps.Cllr Roger Phillips chairman of Marches European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) Committee
The grant is funded from a mixture of sources including some money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The grant scheme is not open to applications, but this launch means it is very close to taking applications, a suppliers day will be held on Wednesday 29th March so broadband providers can learn about the scheme and decide whether to participate.
Clearly 100% coverage at superfast speeds would be ideal and areas like Herefordshire and Gloucestershire do have a higher than average ratio of FTTP to FTTC in rural areas, but as networks take time to build voucher schemes have an important part to play in ensuring SMEs can jump ahead of the curve. Hopefully the scheme will also be accessible for developments that for example convert farm buildings into offices for a number of small companies allowing them to offer superfast broadband to tenants from day 1.