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Superfast Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme Extended to 2016

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 (10:49 am) - Score 1,868
business broadband connection voucher uk

The Government’s Connection Voucher scheme, which offers grants worth up to £3,000 in order to help small and medium sized businesses around any of 22 cities across the United Kingdom to gain access to a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service, has been extended by a full year to March 2016. Additional funding and expanded coverage is also confirmed.

At present the voucher scheme forms a significant part (roughly £100m) of the wider “Super-Connected Cities” initiative, which itself stems from the £150m Urban Broadband Fund (UBF). But uptake remains lower than expected (here) and so far more than 5,000 vouchers have been delivered (mid-November 2014), although around 10,000 are expected to have been delivered by March 2015 when the scheme was originally supposed to end.

Recently the Government has moved to enhance their advertising of the vouchers and some city councils have also extended the grants to areas that exist well outside of their city boundaries, although it’s still too early to judge how effective those measures have been. Never the less the Government’s latest National Infrastructure Plan 2014 Update notes that the voucher scheme is to be extended, with another £40m being added to the pot.

NIF 2014 Update – Voucher Scheme

Broadband connection vouchers – the government will provide up to £40 million to extend the SME connection voucher scheme to March 2016 and to more cities; vouchers will be available on a first come, first served basis.

It’s worth remembering that the demand-led voucher scheme was hastily setup in 2013 after fears of network overbuilding triggered legal challenges by BT and Virgin Media (here), with Europe also expressing competition concerns around the issue of putting state aid into urban areas, where the private sector should have less trouble making a case for investment (here). Many argue that the money might have been better spent on helping to upgrade rural areas.

At the time of writing the Government has not announced which new cities will be added to the current list, although the document states that the “Vouchers will be available in the new cities from April 2015.”

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Mark Jackson
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.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar tim

    1970,s infrastructure and expect getting speeds of FTTC where does all the line rental go certainly not on improving the services probably paying the top notch guys 6 figure sums.

  2. Avatar GNewton

    This voucher scheme doesn’t address the fundamental issue which is the lack of available fibre-optic broadband for businesses in many of the covered city areas. It’s not good enough to cover the setup costs via a voucher, the monthly costs must be taken into consideration, too. And it is where the scheme fails for many smaller businesses who don’t havew the financial resources to run a leased line.

    The voucher scheme should be modified to promote an extended coverage of fibre-optic broadband into city areas where it is currently unavailable, it should not be used for support telecom’s leased-lines business.

  3. “Many argue that the money might have been better spent on helping to upgrade rural areas.”

    Many would argue that funding one single infrastructure provider is not going to create value for money.

    As for rural areas, the technology is out there and in use, plenty of companies now exists that utilise it. If only the EU and Gov would get their heads out of the “must be Fibre/BT” thinking and instead put the provision of a service out to competitive tender in a technology agnostic way then we would all win.

    We operate in 5 counties, not one of these recognises our service as existent. This has got to be wrong on many levels.

    bill

  4. Introduce fibre connectivity standards. Enshrine these standards in UK building regulations. Pressgang providers to create “pay for use” internet plans using fibre connectivity. We need to make connectivity a true utility. If Landlords don’t have to pay for lines when buildings are empty then the business case for investment is crystal clear. Business premises that benefit from +100Mb connectivity are in high demand. Lead times for prospective tenants to research and provision connectivity run 3-6 months. With the lines already in place I have seen office moves completed within 1 month. With very happy agents, tenants and landlords. Everybody wins
    Nathan

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