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Telford and Wrekin Prep Big Broadband Grants for 124 Local Businesses

Thursday, July 14th, 2016 (11:41 am) - Score 220

Some 124 eligible small and medium sized businesses in Telford and Wrekin (Shropshire, England) could soon be offered an average level of grant payment worth £15,000 per business (ranging from £7,000 to £25,000), which will help them to get a superfast broadband service installed.

At present the Superfast Telford project is already working with BT (Openreach) to extend FTTC/P based “superfast broadband” (24-30Mbps+) services to reach 98% of local homes and businesses by the end of 2017, but this will still leave some premises to suffer from slower connectivity.

The local authority has thus proposed that one part of the solution for at least some of those in the final 2% could be a new Marches Business Broadband Grant Scheme, which is of course focused on SMEs and not residential premises. However improving connectivity to local businesses can sometimes also help to bring new broadband services closer to homes.

The new scheme, which would cost a total of £396,000, looks set to be funded by £159,000 from the local council and £237,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Brexit vote won’t have much of an impact on this as the scheme is likely to run from 1st October 2016 to the end of 2018 (i.e. it will end before the UK officially exits the EU).

The Proposes Grant Scheme

The Marches Broadband Grant project is seeking funding from the current ESIF Programme to provide grant funding to qualifying SME’s to pay for bespoke solutions that will allow businesses to benefit from Next Generation Access1 and/or Business Grade Broadband Connectivity. It will only be open to businesses that have not been broadband enabled by either the current BDUK Superfast Telford Programme or by other commercial broadband investment.

Based on costs and grants provided by a recent and similar project operated in Herefordshire, it has been assumed that the average level of grant payment will be £15,000 per business, with costs ranging from £7,000 to £25,000. It is anticipated that many grants are likely to be towards the lower end of this spectrum in Telford & Wrekin which has more accessible, semi-rural areas, but in recognition of the more remote rural areas in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Further details can be found in this official document (here) and the local authority will take a vote to approve the proposed grant scheme on 21st July 2016 next week. Apparently any extra costs associated with the marketing and promotion of the scheme will be met from the existing Growth Hub revenue base budget.

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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.
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