Broadband connection voucher scheme extended

More than 800 jobs are expected to be created in Bradford over the next year as a result of £900k of government ‘connection voucher’ grants awarded to 400 small businesses in the District in the last 12 months. The funding covers the costs of installing high-speed internet connectivity, as part of the Superconnected Cities programme.

Bradford and Leeds combined have seen the UK’s highest take-up rates outside London for the vouchers, worth up to £3,000 per business, and the programme is set to generate economic benefits for the region. According to SMEs that have signed up for the scheme, each business that has gained access to superfast internet services expects to create an average of 2.1 new jobs over the following 12 months as a result of the faster web infrastructure, with turnover predicted to rise by an average of £148,000.

Extension of the Superconnected Cities programme by another year to March 2016 is welcome news.  An additional £40m is available nationally to enable more businesses to benefit from a connection to high speed internet.

The scheme has also been of benefit to local Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Small businesses across the two cities are tending to sign up with local ISPs rather than the large national organisations. This means that Bradford-based ISPs like ITC and Mayra Telecom have been able to win new customers and grow their business, giving an additional positive impact for Bradford’s economy.

Around a third of all connections made as part of the scheme are for wireless broadband, which can be a quick and cost-effective way of getting connected to business grade broadband. Bradford Council is working with wireless broadband providers to expand the coverage of this technology across the city, starting from the city centre. Together with the ongoing Superfast West Yorkshire fibre infrastructure scheme, it means that more businesses across Bradford have access to high quality, superfast broadband.

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Written on 14th January 2015Lillie Geistdorfer. Published in Bradford Council, Current Issues, Economy, News