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£25K Business Broadband Grants for Herefordshire, Shropshire and Gloucestershire

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 (12:01 am) - Score 671
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A new voucher scheme has been launched for businesses in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire and the Borough of Telford & Wrekin (England), which offers local SMEs up to £25,000 to help fund the installation of a 30Mbps+ “superfast” Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband connection.

The new scheme for small and medium sized businesses, which is due to become available from April 2017, is supported by a public investment of £4.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Some of our readers may recall that the idea was first proposed a year ago (here) and is supported by the related local authorities, as well as the regional Fastershire broadband project.

At the time it was suggested that, across the Marches area, up to 6,000 SMEs could eventually fall into the final few % of areas that may not necessarily benefit from the on-going Broadband Delivery UK, BT and Gigaclear supported deployment of superfast and ultrafast broadband services (FTTC/P). This is precisely where the grants would be of most use.

Cllr Roger Phillips, Chair of Marches European Structural and Investment Fund Committee, said:

“This funding will enable us to provide funding support to those qualifying SMEs that cannot access superfast broadband.

The partnership between the four local authorities demonstrates a new approach to addressing the particular broadband requirements of businesses in these areas and is one of the largest grants of this type, both in terms of its geographical footprint and the amount available.

The ultimate aim of the grant is to enable economic growth in these locations by providing businesses with access to financial support to provide access to superfast speeds in excess of 30Mbps.”

The local authorities have previously made no secret of the fact that they “aim to replicate the key principles of the recently closed Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme,” which offered grants of up to £3,000 to help smaller UK businesses get a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service installed.

However the new Marches and Gloucestershire Broadband Grant scheme offers significantly more funding and enables local businesses to access grants worth up to £25,000, which should cover up to 100% of the capital infrastructure costs of a broadband solution. This is enough to help support the installation of even some expensive leased line solutions.

Sadly the press release doesn’t include any information about the eligibility criteria, although potential suppliers are being invited to attend an industry day at the Marches Growth Hub Telford & Wrekin on Wednesday 29th March (details here).

UPDATE 9:35am

We’ve been told that the main eligibility criteria for the grant is that –

· Beneficiaries operate in ERDF eligible sectors.

· Beneficiaries will not be enabled through the main project programmes (they mean the Fastershire roll-out etc.).

· Beneficiaries are SMEs (less 250 employees and turnover under £50m).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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