Friday, May 1, 2015

News: Businesses set to benefit from broadband boost

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Small businesses in Rotherham are now able to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to boost their broadband service.

Local councils have been successful in accessing the Government's broadband connection voucher scheme, which is to be extended for a further year. Each voucher covers up to £3,000 of installation costs but businesses can also apply as a group to connect bigger or more complicated premises. Once installed, businesses pay the line rental and VAT.

The Government announced that it was extending its SuperConnected Cities scheme and that more areas would be able to access the vouchers in the Autumn Statement 2014, to be funded through a £40m Challenge Fund operating on a first-come first-served basis and running until March 2016.

At the same time, contracts have been signed for a £22m project to ensure 97.9% of South Yorkshire will have access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.

Developed by a partnership with the leadership of the four partners' authorities in South Yorkshire, alongside the support of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the project is part of the government's BDUK initiative which is based on a gap funded subsidy approach, where the private sector invests alongside a public subsidy to provide broadband to areas where there is not otherwise a viable commercial market.

Due to its involvement in the failed Digital Region project, South Yorkshire is the last in this current round of BDUK, the government project with the goal of delivering a fibre point in every community in the UK by the end of 2015.

The core contract for the new Superfast South Yorkshire broadband project will cover over 102,000 residential and business premises across eight delivery phases. The first cabinet is anticipated to go live in November 2015, and the final phases will be completed by the end of 2017.

Detailed surveys and designs are being carried out in order to finalise the deployment plan, which will be made public as soon as available so that households and businesses can understand when the deployment will reach them.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "This is fantastic news for South Yorkshire as we know how important a fast broadband connection is for businesses across the UK. We want to make sure that small businesses have the technology they need to compete in the digital age. This scheme will help tens of thousands of small businesses around the UK and I urge all South Yorkshire businesses to apply for a voucher from April 2015 onwards."

Cllr. Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Development and Skills at Sheffield City Council, added: "The South Yorkshire Local Authorities have long recognised the importance of broadband as an enabler of economic growth. We are keen to support as many of our small and medium sized businesses to access the connection vouchers and to realise the business benefits of being better connected.

"We believe that superfast broadband connectivity is essential for building a strong and competitive economy to support economic growth, open up new markets, attract investment and contribute to more and better jobs in the region."

Superfast South Yorkshire website

Images: Superfast South Yorkshire

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