55,000 Connection vouchers helped improve broadband for small business
The Government's Broadband Connection Voucher came to end in April 2015 once the allocated pot of £40m ran out, during the course of the scheme some 55,000 vouchers were given to small and medium sized businesses for the explicit purpose of boosting broadband connectivity.
Each value was worth up to £3,000 and initially the scheme did not take off as the rules required multiple quotes but once that changed it appeared to become more popular and a quick summary of the regional is below, importantly the biggest three names in the broadband world, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk only accounted for 14% of the total voucher value handed out. Some 800 suppliers took part in the scheme and while a wide variety of technological solutions were used a good number would have been reselling connectivity from the big three.
|Connection Vouchers Issued|
|Yorkshire and Humber||7,377|
|East of England||1,459|
When the scheme was running some were unsure of whether the vouchers could be pooled, but a couple of case studies show that this was possible with the 350 businesses based in the Custard Factory in Birmingham pooling vouchers to cover the £780,000 costs for installing faster connectivity to the site and Perseverance Works in Shoreditch seeing 30 businesses pool their vouchers to boost speeds from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps at a cost of around £90,000.
One fifth of those using the vouchers managed to acquire a connection that will support ultrafast broadband with speeds of 100 Mbps or faster and one third elected to take an uncontended service with guarantees for download and upload speeds.
There was of course the money spent on promoting the scheme with adverts which will draw criticism for wasting money that could have been spent on vouchers, but without some publicity it is highly likely that no where near as many vouchers would have been taken up. Hopefully a legacy of the scheme will be that some of the broadband providers will have increased their network footprint. Our real hope is that those building office space will have seen that for a modern office building in a digital world that ensuring good internet connectivity is available in a building from day 1 is even more important than a swish building reception.