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55,000 Businesses Took Broadband Connection Vouchers – UK Breakdown

Monday, November 16th, 2015 (10:59 am) - Score 1,173

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








Brighton and Hove


































Kent Towns










Greater Manchester




Milton Keynes














































Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar Ignition says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

    1. Avatar Patrick Cosgrove says:

      BDUK assured me it was quite in order.

    2. Avatar MikeW says:

      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.

    3. Avatar DTMark says:

      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 says:

    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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