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55,000 Businesses Took Broadband Connection Vouchers – UK Breakdown

Monday, November 16th, 2015 (10:59 am) - Score 983
business broadband connection voucher uk

Last month the Government’s Connection Voucher scheme, which gifted grants of up to £3,000 to help smaller UK businesses get a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service installed, came to an end after funding dried up (here) and today we learn that a total of 55,000 SMEs have benefited.

The scheme, which was initially supported by around £100m from the wider Urban Broadband Fund (“Super-Connected Cities“) before being extended to March 2016 with another £40m boost, was ultimately made available to businesses that existed both in and around 50 cities across the United Kingdom.

As part of this effort the Government softened the application rules and made the vouchers much more widely available, which contributed to a significant uptake in interest. In the end the public funding was exhausted during October 2015, well ahead of the original completion date.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said:

Our Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has been a tremendous success. More than 55,000 small businesses across the UK have taken up the offer, many of which are already seeing significant boosts to their business as a result of improved broadband speeds. We’re transforming the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create new jobs and attract investment to make the UK an enviable business destination.

Overall more than 800 suppliers (broadband ISPs etc.) participated in the scheme and the vast majority (86%) of the value went to smaller suppliers rather than the big operators like BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. The Government also claims that businesses who have benefitted from the scheme are reporting, on average, a £1,300 per year increase in profits, with a new job being created for every four new connections (difficult to double check this).

Despite its success the scheme has been no stranger to criticism, with many feeling as if the money could have been better spent on bringing faster connectivity to rural areas. Others have also complained that it did little to improve the overall availability of super-fast broadband infrastructure.

It’s worth remembering that the voucher scheme only came about because of concerns over EU state aid rules (here). The related funding had originally been earmarked to help deploy new “ultrafast” (80-100Mbps+) broadband networks across a smaller number of major UK cities, but fears of network overbuilding triggered legal threats from BT and Virgin Media (here), which combined with the EU concerns to result in a watered down voucher scheme.

In any case it’s businesses in London that secured the most vouchers (14,545), while firms in Scotland only gobbled 2,899 and there’s a similar total for the whole of Wales (2,887). Mind you that’s not surprising as most of the main urban cities are in England.

City Number of Vouchers
Aberdeen

 367

Belfast

 2,142

Birmingham

 3,273

Bournemouth

 901

Brighton and Hove

 1,185

Bristol

 2,222

Cambridge

 826

Cardiff

 2,083

Carlisle

 52

Chelmsford

 79

Coventry

 1,458

Derby

 445

Derry

 269

Dundee

 80

Edinburgh

 1,200

Exeter

 153

Glasgow

 902

Gloucester

 178

Hull

 1,137

Inverness

 77

Ipswich

 246

Kent Towns

 144

Leeds

 4,738

Leicester

 590

Liverpool

 1,844

London

 14,545**

Greater Manchester

6,007

Middlesbrough

 247

Milton Keynes

 490

Newcastle

 1,376

Newport

 274

Norwich

 85

Nottingham

 419

Oxford

 590

Perth

 133

Peterborough

 120

Plymouth

 110

Portsmouth

 315

Preston

 351

Reading

 93

Sheffield

 751

Southampton

 297

Southend-On-Sea

 103

Stirling

 140

Stoke

 219

Sunderland

 98

Swansea

 530

Swindon

 66

Wolverhampton

 395

York

 751

Total

 55,096

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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
7 Responses
  1. Avatar Ignition

    I can’t say I’m entirely convinced that a chip shop in our area that used the voucher for FTTC will have created much in the way of new jobs as a result 😉

    Sadly impossible to quantify the results of this programme. Not that the government won’t try of course, as long as it’s positive.

  2. Avatar Patrick Cosgrove

    But will it re-appear in the Autumn Statement on 25th November? One great advantage which never really had time to prove itself, was the facility to aggregate vouchers and create a network where BT refused to reach. It would be a good way of funding the trial approaches that BDUK is said to be approving early next year. Once built, residential premises could also be connected.

  3. Avatar fastman

    which is completely against the state aid rules !!!! little wonder why it might now have been stopped

    • Avatar Patrick Cosgrove

      BDUK assured me it was quite in order.

    • Avatar MikeW

      This is a myth that has expanded to become reality. Or is it the other way around?

      Some places are adamant that the connection voucher scheme could not be used to build infrastructure.

      Other places are adamant that the vouchers could be aggregated to bring a new service into, for example, a business park.

      Yet the latter could only work if the aggregation caused some infrastructure building.

      They can’t both be right.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Isn’t it somewhat academic, in so far as:

      Company 1 contacts Supplier X to request services

      Supplier X is able to supply but would need to build into said business park and tells Company 1 that this would be cheaper if there were multiple customers

      Company 1 gets Company 2, 3, 4 and 5 to also express interest

      Supplier X then deploys infra which is used to service all 5 companies who each hand over their grant money

      In this respect each company has “purchased separately” and yet the aggregation effect exists.

  4. Avatar Patrick@cosgr.plus.com

    I can only repeat that a BDUK officer told me (publicly at a conference) that they could be aggregated. But it may be entirely academic now.

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