55,000 UK SMEs helped to get online with defunct broadband connection vouchers

Just weeks after the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced that the scheme had run out of money, it has now announced that more than 55,000 SMEs signed up in total, including architects, estate agents, mechanics, events coordinators, cafes, graphic designers and caterers.

Each of the businesses is reporting a £1,300 per year increase in profits on average claims the DCMS with digital economy minister Ed Vaizey saying: “Our Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has been a tremendous success. More than 55,000 small businesses across the UK have taken up the offer, many of which are already seeing significant boosts to their business as a result of improved broadband speeds.

“We’re transforming the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create new jobs and attract investment to make the UK an enviable business destination.”

The figures also reveal that the big three internet service providers in the UK – BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk – accounted for just 14 percent of the total value of the vouchers as firms instead opted for smaller broadband suppliers from across the UK.

However as we reported last month companies can no longer sign up for the scheme. The DCMS confirmed the closure last month, saying: “We are delighted that tens of thousands of businesses have received a voucher giving them access to an affordable superfast broadband connection.

“We have now suspended the scheme pending confirmation that the remaining funds have now been allocated.”

However, whilst the scheme is no longer, the government has said that some suppliers now offer similar support through free installation and equipment, meaning that SMEs that didn’t sign up to the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme can still apply for a free or discounted broadband boost for their business.

Virgin Media Business has actually stepped in and launched a free small business broadband installation scheme.

The scheme will cover up to £1,000 of installation costs for new business customers, and will reach the same cities as the government’s Super Connected Cities (SCC) voucher programme.

Virgin Media Business was part of the original SCC voucher programme and will trial its own version of the scheme for the rest of the year. It has set the figure at £1,000 because almost all (86 per cent) the installations it completed under the SCC programme were for less than £1,000.

Mike Smith, director of Small Business at Virgin Media Business, says: “We’ve connected thousands of small businesses with the support of the Super Connected Cities voucher scheme, which was a huge success to help businesses get online.

“We’re pleased to launch this exclusive trial for the UK’s small businesses to help them get online and thrive with the fastest available broadband. We know one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is upfront costs, including for the likes of broadband.”