British businesses have until March 2015 to apply for vouchers worth up to £3,000 from the Government’s Super Connected Cities scheme.
So far the vouchers have allowed over 3,000 small to medium companies get money off connection and installation fees for next-gen broadband services from the likes of Hyperoptic, AAISP and Virgin Media Business.
While hundreds of firms are still applying for vouchers, culture secretary Sajid Javid has warned that companies are in danger of missing the boat.
Javid said: “We want to make sure that small businesses have the help and support they need to grow and prosper in our digital age. That is why we are providing these grants to help small businesses meet their challenges.
“I urge all eligible small businesses to apply straight away and help boost their businesses with faster broadband.”
In order for businesses to be eligible for a voucher, they need to have an annual turnover of less than £41 million and employ no more than 249 staff. Companies that have received more than £200,000 in public grants in the last three years and are linked to a bigger parent company are also ineligible.
Super Connected Cities is available to businesses in 22 UK cities and is a sister programme to the Government’s nominally rural-centric BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) fund.
While BDUK was set up to address the UK’s town and country digital divide, superfast not spots and broadband black holes also exist in the big cities – something which this very publication is painfully aware of. Recently the Mayor of London Boris Johnson called for 99 per cent of London properties to have superfast broadband access by 2018.
The Government has pumped a total of £150 million into the Super Connected Cities fund, which hands out vouchers giving ISPs between £200 and £3,000 off of the cost of having a range of services – from FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) to high speed wireless broadband – installed.
The FT reports that only £7.5 million of the fund has been spent on vouchers so far. It’s not known what will happen to any surplus cash after the March 2015 deadline arrives. Any leftover money could be reinvested in rural projects or put towards the Mobile Infrastructure Project, which has been set up to improve mobile reception across the UK.