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The government has claimed that more than 55,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) signed up to receive vouchers for its Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme - a programme that has now been shelved after it was revealed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to have run out of money.

The idea behind the scheme was to get SMBs ready for a faster digital market with the help of faster broadband speeds.

It had £40m of available funding and enabled businesses to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to cover the costs of installing better broadband, but as the funding wasn't ringfenced, after the money ran out, the programme was suspended.

The government said that the UK's biggest ISPs - BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk - "only accounted for 14 per cent of the total value" and suggested that most of the value of the scheme went to smaller suppliers. However, with more than 800 suppliers participating in the scheme, the big three still received a reasonable proportion of business through the programme.

According to the government, the scheme has helped a variety of businesses, including architects, estate agents, mechanics, events coordinators, cafes, graphic designers and caterers.

The government claimed that SMBs benefiting from a broadband connection delivered by the scheme have reported, on average, a £1,300 annual increase in profits.

Other benefits for SMBs, according to the government, included access to new markets through better communication with customers and suppliers, better security as a result of faster back-up of data, increased productivity and efficiency.

The government said that even though the scheme has closed, eligible businesses who did not apply for one of the vouchers still have time to apply for a free or discounted broadband upgrade for their business through some of the suppliers who were involved with the scheme.

London gets the majority

The majority of the vouchers (14,545) were issued in London, with the North West (8,254), Yorkshire and Humber (7,377), and the Midlands (6,799) the only other areas to receive more than 5,000 vouchers.

South East England and South West England received more than 3,000 broadband vouchers each, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all receiving more than 2,400. The lowest amount of vouchers given out to particular regions were to the North East (1,721) and the East of England (1,459).

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Sooraj Shah

Quelle/Source: Computing, 18.11.2015

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