We’ve come pretty damn far since the days of your computer beeping, whirring and farting at you every time you wanted to connect to the web. Today we’re so spoiled that a few extra seconds of waiting for a 1080p video of a cat massaging a pig to buffer can end up in a wild (yet totally unwarranted) tantrum.
On the other hand, in the business world a solid internet connection is something genuinely worth getting worked up about. Whether it’s the pain of an awkwardly shaky Skype session with an important client, or trying to upload a massive file when you’re on a strict deadline, small business owners simply cannot afford to get let down by their Internet Service Provider.
Getting superfast broadband (which refers to a connection up to 300Mbps) not only means companies can increase profits by offering better services to more satisfied customers, it also allows them to reduce software and hardware costs by switching to online data storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
To ensure the small business world doesn’t get left in the dark ages, there is a government grant available in 50 cities across the UK. The Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has already provided 40,000 businesses with connection vouchers of up to £3,000 for faster, more reliable broadband.
Upon the launch of the grant in late-2013, Maria Miller (then-Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport) said
“Britain is undergoing a broadband transformation and businesses up and down the country will benefit from the millions of pounds we’ve set aside. We want Britain’s digital infrastructure to be the best in the world and having faster and more reliable broadband will be key in driving growth.
I strongly urge businesses to make the most of this offer which will save them thousands of pounds, help generate thousands more, and ensure they are properly equipped to compete in today’s digital age.”
Who is eligible?
- According to the the scheme’s official web site, Broadband Connection Vouchers are available to Small or Medium Enterprises (SMEs) if:
Your business is within an eligible area one of the 50 cities taking part in the scheme.
- You are an SME, registered charity, social enterprise or sole trader
- Installation of your new broadband connection will cost over £100
- The connection is for your business premises. You can apply for a connection at home if this is your main work base, but this does not apply if you work from home occasionally
- You are willing to sign up to a minimum 6 month contract with your broadband supplier
- The broadband service you select delivers a speed or performance improvement on your current connection. There are some detailed requirements on speed that you should check before applying
- You have not received more than €200,000 in grants in the last 3 years
What’s the catch?
Some cities operate additional eligibility rules depending on your business sector – this can be checked here.
It’s worth noting the offer is on a first come, first served basis until the £40 million budget has run out, which apparently isn’t too far from happening.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said “Businesses need to act now to ensure they don’t miss out on this fantastic offer and I’m urging all eligible businesses to apply now before it’s too late”.
Digital marketers We Are All Connected are one of the many companies who have already taken advantage of the vouchers. Managing Director Robin Dally had positive sentiments about the rollout:
“The forms took 30 seconds to fill out. And I got very fast, very reliable broadband set up for our office, on time, when we only gave a few weeks notice. Awesome! I’ve never had a problem since… somewhat different to certain other large monopoly holding providers.”
Have you applied for the Broadband Connection Vouchers for your business? Was it an easy process? Let us know below!