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Bristol UK Expands Availability of Broadband Vouchers Outside City

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 (10:25 am) - Score 404

In an interesting move the Bristol City Council (South West England) has decided to try and drum up more interest in the local Broadband Connection Vouchers scheme by extending its availability to businesses outside of the city’s administrative boundary. More UK cities may soon follow suit.

The vouchers, which can be worth between £200 and £3,000 per firm, use part of the Government’s £150m Urban Broadband Fund (“Super-Connected Cities“) to help SME businesses install a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) connection, although the programme has suffered some issues with low uptake (here).

Several changes have already been made to help make the scheme more attractive, such as by opening it up to registered charities, social enterprises or sole traders (often this also includes home businesses). But Bristol intends to go further (here) by also making it possible for around 2,300 businesses within 5 miles of Bristol City Council’s administrative boundary to become eligible for the vouchers.

Mark Bradshaw, Bristol’s Assistant Mayor, said:

The scheme has been well received in Bristol and we’re extremely pleased to be expanding it across traditional borders having sought permission from the Government to do so.”

The move means that small firms in Portishead, Keynsham, Kingswood, Winterbourne and Filton will now also be eligible for a slice of the £5 million voucher budget in Bristol. As an example, Filton is a modest town that resides some 4.5 miles north of Bristol City Centre.

It’s likely that a similar expansion of availability may follow in some of the other 21 cities involved in the scheme, especially if the local authority feels as if the budget is not likely to be fully utilised by the end date of March 2015.

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