With a growing digital consumer culture and increasing benefits for businesses adopting new technology the Government is offering funding for SMEs to take advantage of superfast broadband connectivity. SMEs within an eligible area of 50 selected cities, as part of the Super Connected Cities programme, can apply for a connection voucher worth up to £3,000 to help towards the costs of installation.
What Are The Business Benefits of Superfast Broadband?
Gone are the days where the internet is only used to send emails and watch amusing videos. The internet and digital tools can now improve the way in which people work and directly drive success for businesses. But what does that actually mean? In terms of communication, businesses can now take advantage of VoIP technology for cheap and easy to manage telephony, with many packages also including video conferencing and instant messaging services. This technology can save money for businesses as people no longer need to travel long distances to collaborate with other offices or hard-to-reach clients. In the recruitment industry in particular, platforms such as Skype have enabled candidates to attend interviews and meetings with agents and even their prospective employer quickly and without the need for costly travel.
Plus, as more and more business happens away from the office, or in multiple offices, Cloud-based services are also continuing to grow in popularity. Being able to access critical programmes and files securely on-the-go, from home or from a client’s premises is now considered to be standard and Cloud solutions are providing this capability. However, if a business is dependent on Cloud to run its core functions it will need the broadband to support this.
Who Can Claim a Connection Voucher?
The eligibility details as described on the Government’s connection voucher website (www.connectionvouchers.co.uk) are as follows:
• Your business is located within an eligible area of one of the 50 cities (see below).
• You are an SME, registered charity, social enterprise or sole trader.
• The installation of new broadband will cost over £100.
• The installation is for a business premises. This can be at your home if this is your primary working location, but not if you only work from home occasionally.
• You must sign a contract of a least 6 months with your broadband provider.
• The new broadband services must be an improvement on your current connection (Note: there are some specific requirements on speed that you must check on the Government’s website before applying).
• You have not received more than 200,000 Euros in grants during the last 3 years.
The 50 cities participating in the scheme are:
Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Coventry, Derby, Exeter, Gloucester, Hull, Ipswich, Leeds/Bradford, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, Salford, Sheffield, Southampton, Southend on Sea, Stoke on Trent, Sunderland, Swindon, Wolverhampton, York, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Stirling, Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
How do I apply?
The vouchers are available on a first-come-first-serve basis so if you are thinking about upgrading your broadband make sure you apply sooner rather than later! The application process itself is fairly fast and simple; you can either pick an out-of-the-box solution from one of the 833 recommended providers, which is the easiest option, or get a quote from another provider and complete the application form online.