Broadband News

Six months left for businesses to apply for £3,000 broadband grants

The Internet connection requirements for a business will vary greatly, some need no more than a consumer connection with VAT invoices, while others need symmetric Gigabit to have multiple video uploads and downloads at the same time. The broadband voucher scheme for 22 cities across the UK was born from the original idea of connected super-connected islands in various cities, but overlaps with commercial networks put paid to that idea.

The vouchers that cover the cost of installation and hardware for a new faster connection for a business up to the value of £3,000 have just six months left to run as the scheme closes in March 2015. These connections can be fixed wireless, FTTC, FTTP or just a good old fashioned leased line, the choice is up to the business and will be governed by their ability to afford the on-going costs and their Internet needs.

"All the evidence shows that high-speed digital connectivity is essential to the success of businesses in an increasingly digital economy. Around the country businesses are struggling to grow and compete, suffocated by a lack of bandwidth. The Federation of Small Business (FSB) recently found that just 12% of the UK’s small businesses have a fibre broadband connection and 1 per cent (around 45,000 businesses) still use dial up. This is despite 94 per cent of small businesses viewing a reliable Internet connection as critical to their on-going success.

It is with this in mind that we are hugely supportive of the government’s connection voucher scheme as an initiative to accelerate the growth of businesses’ digital capabilities. Ultra-fast connectivity enables our companies to embrace the new generation of cloud services and online tools that provide the functionality and flexibility they need to grow. What is more, in cities where our competitive pure fibre infrastructure exists, businesses can gain even further advantage by accessing a range of affordable gigabit-speed services of 1000Mbps that will catapult them to the front of the pack."

Mark Collins, director of strategy and public affairs, CityFibre

The comments from CityFibre and other providers over the course of the voucher scheme show that this is not just BT or Virgin Media hoovering up the money, even though they are the two who objected to the vastly different original scheme. With the scheme attracting CityFibre and others it may actually provider a kickstart to more competition in the urban environment and make UK cities look more like their European counterparts with a lot more FTTB - the fact that in Europe people live in flats is of course another factor.

As for those one per cent of businesses still using dial-up, if that is all they believe they can get for an Internet connection, then while its not perfect a satellite based connection would be a much better option.

While the voucher scheme is far from perfect, we would urge businesses to do some shopping around and research, do not just pick up the phone and talk to your usual telecoms sales person take a look at the Superconnected cities website which lists some 500 suppliers, and you may get some different answers to the standard responses you are getting from that supplier you have stuck with for years.


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