Getting Superfast Broadband with the Connection Vouchers Scheme
As we have discussed, getting the right broadband connection can be difficult and expensive. In places like Shoreditch in the heart of the Silicon Roundabout Cluster this can be heightened by a range of issues both logistical and infrastructural – which we have covered in previous posts.
Over the past few weeks we explained the basics of broadband infrastructure, as well as the ins and outs of getting a connection for your business. We also discussed the potential for a new business case if you partner with other companies to group purchase from providers. In this post, we focus on the Government’s Connection Voucher Scheme, which may be able to help.
The Connection Voucher Scheme
Until 31 March 2015, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is offering the Connection Voucher scheme across 22 UK cities. The Scheme provides a possible £3,000 (excluding the VAT) grant towards the cost of a new superfast connection or upgrading an existing connection to a superfast speed.
BDUK has negotiated a number of off-the-shelf packages with service providers that include a saving of up to £3,000. This is aimed at saving entrepreneurs and business owners the hassle of requesting a bespoke quote to apply for the Voucher.
Are you eligible?
One voucher is available per SME or charitable organisation. You’ll need to check whether the Scheme is available in your city by searching on your postcode here.
There are three ways to take advantage of the Scheme:
1. Choose an off-the-shelf package
The simplest solution may be to choose a package that has already been registered for the Scheme. These offers already include the grant for your business (of up to £3,000) and don’t require any additional paperwork.
A range of solutions is available in each of the 22 cities from a number of providers. Click here for a sample of some of the offers available in Shoreditch.
If you can’t find a package that suits your needs, you can contact a supplier to arrange a bespoke solution. If there are several SMEs in your building, we recommend working with other companies to create a joint application to offset costs for the entire building.
2. Make a joint application
If you work in a building that is shared with other businesses, you can put your vouchers together to cover the installation cost of a new super fast connection. Landlords can also manage this process on behalf of tenants.
Each company (rather than each building) is eligible for up to £3,000 towards the cost of installation. By working together with other businesses you can create a larger pool of funding to cover higher installation costs and all the companies in your building could benefit from a faster connection. This is part of a wider discussion that we have touched upon in previous posts around creating a new business case for group buying.
For example, Perseverance Works is a creative hub in Shoreditch comprising of more than 400 people across 30 businesses. Together, they put in a joint application to cover the £89,281 installation fee for a 100mb superfast fibre line.
Pro Tip: Even if you don’t have the whole group together yet, you can still get in touch with a supplier to help you gather the support you need to access the voucher funding.
As an alternative, you can contact your local city council (for London, the contact point is firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 983 4982), which will be able to discuss the range of options available.
3. Get a voucher for a bespoke solution
To claim your £3,000 voucher towards the cost of a bespoke installation or upgrade, you’ll need to start by contacting a supplier to get a quote.
The full list of suppliers is available on the Connection Vouchers website – this also shows the suppliers who are most popular in your city.
Once you have the details, enter your postcode on the website and follow the links to make your application. When the new connection is installed, your grant will be paid directly to your selected supplier by your local authority.
Still have questions?
If you want to know more about the Scheme, you can also contact your local city council in one of the 22 cities taking part.