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Portsmouth Makes Broadband Vouchers Available Outside the City

Friday, September 26th, 2014 (9:43 am) - Score 510

The city of Portsmouth in Hampshire (England) has joined Bristol to make their local £4.7m superfast broadband Connection Vouchers available to businesses outside of the city’s boundary. The vouchers, worth between £200 and £3,000 +vat per firm, are designed to help SME businesses install a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) connection.

Unfortunately the Government’s voucher scheme, which is available to 22 cities across the United Kingdom, has suffered due to low uptake (here) and so, as well as making the application process easier, some city authorities have also been making them available outside of their city limits.

In Portsmouth’s case businesses in Gosport, Fareham and Havant can now gain access to the grants. Fareham in particular is more than 5km from the centre of Portsmouth. Applications are being accepted now and the scheme remains open until 31st March 2015.

Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:

This scheme allows us to help small and medium sized businesses in Portsmouth increase their broadband speed to make their business more efficient. It is excellent news that businesses in the wider Solent area can also access this funding thanks to phase two of the scheme. This will enable them to improve broadband connectivity. We have worked hard to secure this opportunity for local businesses.

Superfast broadband is more reliable, and makes businesses more efficient and competitive. I would therefore urge all those businesses in Portsmouth and also now in the wider region without this connectivity, to apply for a voucher.”

It’s probably fair to expect that most of the related city authorities will now adopt a similar approach, especially those where uptake has been lowest.

Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    £3,000 to install a (potentially single) broadband circuit in a *city* – incredible.

    Might the reasons for low take-up be:

    1. People don’t know about the scheme
    2. It isn’t offering anywhere near enough money

    On (2) for instance, £3k would still leave another circa £37k for me to pay to get a basic fixed line broadband connection here if I needed to have one.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Certainly in some areas, and the opposite may also be true, with many of the more affordable domestic grade “business” broadband services (e.g. FTTC) coming with an install cost of just less than £200 (i.e. outside of the scheme).

      However it’s important to remember that businesses can club together and aggregate those vouchers, although such things are rarely an easy task.

  2. Avatar Stephen says:

    As a sole trader running a photography business for a rural location (Aberdeenshire) I would love the oppurtunity to apply for a voucher to improve my broadband service. However, I don’t know if even the maximum £3000 would cover the upgrade 11km of an exchange only line, I very much doubt if it would.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      I work from home in a rural area where 4G gives us 20 to 25 down and about 40 up. That suffices for now, though a bit more downstream would be nice.

      Prior to that coming along I looked in our local town to rent an office. The local town, Alton, Hampshire, was abysmally served for broadband, only a phone network and DSL.

      It now has VDSL in some parts, but not the part I was interested in – a business park (Mill Lane if anyone knows the area).

      If it’s still just as poorly served, then 3k might just about get a connection there.

      If the scheme were successful, lets imagine 30 businesses all took up the vouchers. So we now have 30 premises with something useful at a socialised cost of up to ninety thousand pounds.

      How does spending that 90 grand that bring ubiquitous connectivity to that or any other poorly served area?

    2. Avatar NGA for all says:


      The original FOD at £38pm was designed for your situations, extensions from subsidiesed cabinets and infarstructure.
      In Alton, Hampshire CC will have paid for spines to Alton and will have contributed to the handover point, so it is worth a query.
      Note the NAO identified a huge amount of future proofing cost £350m all related to FTTP and FOD apparently, which is part of on going issues on lack of transparency.

    3. Avatar DTMark says:

      It can’t have “fibre on demand” because the cabinets (multiple, IIRC) haven’t been “upgraded”, or at least they weren’t when I last looked.

      There is an adjacent business park (fewer offices, more industry perhaps – Omega Park, I think) which can have it, but it is served by a different cabinet.

  3. Avatar NGA for all says:

    I hope a few will attempt to use this to order FOD from a subsidised rural cabinet and force the issue of afforability. I remain convinced that ceasing of the £38pm wholesale FOD is a breech of state aid conditions assocaited with the BDUK scheme.

    1. Avatar fastman2 says:

      YOU can only FOd from an enabled cab — community could look to private fund enablement on Business park – i understand ommunity has had a cost of enabling those cabs

    2. Avatar fastman2 says:

      NGA — FYI Alton was a commercial enabled exchange (in excess of 20 cab enabled under Commercial (between 2010 – 20130 very few cabs covered under BDUk in that Exchnage and those that are are all central so BDUk will have contrvibuted very little to that exchange in terms of Spine costs — the 3 cabs servicing the busines park are not covered by Commercial or BDUk as they are not good value for money — they could be funded or they could be eligible for next round of funding (sill subject to bvalue you for money) — however you can only FOd from FTTC enabled cab

    3. Avatar GNewton says:

      Are there any taxpayer-funded (BDUK) cabinets at all enabled for the FoD service? I haven’t heard of any cases. FoD is now a nearly dead product anyway. Businesses should club together and get some genuine fibre services from a more competent provider.

  4. Avatar FTTH says:

    Is there any way to see what the how many companies took up the voucher scheme in Portsmouth? It is as far from rural as you can get & I can’t image anyone would need a substantial grant.

    This area expansion opens up some very interesting, difficult to reach areas though.

  5. We’ve just received our Portsmouth connection voucher today and we’re located in this extension area!
    Our HQ is based in a PO15 postcode area, and it doesn’t need much knowledge of Portsmouth to work out that this is a reasonable distance away from the PO1 city centre.

    Why have we used it?

    Well, we already have a 40 Mb/s fibre Ethernet leased line to our office. It’s costing us a fortune and we’d like to switch carriers, opt for a 12 month contract compared to a 36 month contract as we opted for last time (so we can switch more easily next time saving a few £), and with 12 month contracts comes install costs of £2k+ even though we have the fibre to our comms room.

    The connection costs around £2.2k (mainly a BT Openreach EAD charge that the carrier passes straight on with 12 month terms), and we had a further ~£850 against Juniper routers, licenses & a Cisco router for DSL backup.

    In total, we are having to pay £50 compared to £3,050!

    Is this a good use of taxpayer money?
    Yes. We are going to be saving £500 per month compared to our old costs and get a 2x improvement in speed.
    This is extra money that we can reinvest in the business and grow and extra bandwidth to use more cloud applications etc etc.

    Very happy for the council to offer this extension. More cities should follow suit and more cities should be involved in the scheme.

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