Small UK business owners have been offered broadband vouchers worth up to £3,000 to cover the costs of switching to a full-fibre internet connection.
The Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme has been announced by government as part of a £67m investment fund to bring superfast internet connections into more homes and businesses.
Business owners can request vouchers from their broadband provider, provided it is registered with the scheme. Providers can also offer the subsidy to both new and existing customers.
A trial of the broadband voucher scheme in late-2017 has already seen 1,000 business owners in four UK regions benefit.
Commenting on the scheme, chancellor Philip Hammond said: “We’re backing Britain’s small businesses by investing £67m to bring full-fibre broadband to more businesses up and down the country.
“This means faster, more reliable broadband access as we build the digital infrastructure we need to make our economy fit for the future.”
Only around three per cent of UK premises have access to full-fibre broadband. The government hopes its effort to introduce a wider rollout will serve small business owners far into the future. Full-fibre lines cost less to maintain than traditional copper lines, and are capable of supporting gigabit, terabit and even petabit speeds.
Matt Hancock, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said gigabit speeds would see business owners “turbo-charge” their connectivity.
He added: “By building a full fibre future for Britain we are laying the foundations for a digital infrastructure capable of delivering today what the next generation will need tomorrow.”
The government’s current target is to bring full-fibre connectivity to ten million homes and businesses by 2022. The broadband vouchers are the latest in a series of investment initiatives introduced to meet its ambition.
In July 2017, a £400m digital infrastructure fund was announced, before the “Barrier Busting Taskforce” was formed to work with local authorities and suppliers to remove obstacles preventing widespread deployment of full-fibre connectivity.
Despite government efforts, a recent report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed that superfast broadband remained unavailable to half a million small business owners across Britain, with firms in rural regions and trading estates suffering most from slow speeds.
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