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BDUK Uptake Statistics from the SME Broadband Connection Voucher Trial

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 (9:27 am) - Score 697
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The Broadband Delivery UK office has published some interesting statistics from the recent market test of its Connection Vouchers scheme, which uses part of the £150m Urban Broadband Fund (“Super-Connected Cities“) to help businesses install superfast broadband. Some residential premises may also benefit under Phase 2 but the 30Mbps+ target might be reduced.

The scheme offered grants worth between £250 to £3,000 +vat for individual premises / businesses (i.e. any small or medium sized firm of up to 249 employees with a turnover no greater than around £42m per year) to help them get connected to a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service.

According to a leaked summary document of the two month long trial (Aug to Sep 2013), which took place in four cities including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester/Salford, some £2.25 million of public funding was deployed in the above named “targeted priority areas“. Apparently this represents 10% of those cities total voucher allocations under the Super Connected Cities Programme.

Overall 59 suppliers (e.g. ISPs) registered to take part in the test and 240 businesses received quotes from 28 of the suppliers for a broadband installation, which was out of 690 total applications (this includes 443 conditional offers made with 12 rejected). The admin costs for handling all this were said to be “good value for money” and “in line with expectations“. Apparently over £1m was gobbled up to “support connectivity” (e.g. installations).

The document reveals that 19 additional suppliers have expressed interest in being involved with Phase 2 and some details of what this next phase might look like have also been revealed. In particular it’s stated that “marginal inclusion of residential is permissible … but only where cities can demonstrate a case” and only on a “minority basis“, which might be tricky.

The document also states that phase 2 will “consider whether there is an opportunity to be flexible around minimum speed required for business grade services” and feedback on this has been requested from suppliers. Apparently this relates to the fact that some SMEs “value the quality of service elements of business grade services and that a service under 30 Mbit/s can represent a significant upgrade in capability“. The speed of 30Mbps+ has already been watered down dramatically from the original 80-100Mbps+ target and we hope they don’t now set the bar even lower.

Most of the other aspects to be discussed at the forthcoming industry day events (here), which will be held in London on Friday 18th October and Monday 21st October, mirror the recent summary of responses to BDUK’s related consultation (here). Credits to Wispa Limited’s COO, Richard Brown, for bringing this to our attention.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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