Business Boost | 17 July 2018 - by Ian Midgley

How £67m Government scheme can pay for your fibre broadband installation

Alan Worthing, KCOM’s Director of Business, explains why now is the right time to take advantage of the Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme

How £67m Government scheme can pay for your fibre broadband installation

They say that time flies – and that’s especially true for anyone waiting for ultrafast broadband.

In fact, if you want a helping hand from the Government to pay to have full fibre broadband installed then time is of the essence, the final deadline is looming and the window of opportunity is closing.

Recently the Government announced it was rolling out its Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme nationally, making a £67m funding pot available to bolster its long term strategy of increasing full fibre take-up across the UK.

By 2020, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, aims to give everyone in the UK the right to request high speed broadband.

As a step towards the UK’s evolution as a digital nation, the £67m voucher pot has come as a welcome boost to many SMEs – many of whom have perhaps been watching and waiting on the sidelines of the broadband revolution and wondering whether the investment in the next level of connectivity will be worth it.

Of course, if the government is willing to pay for it – or a large chunk of it – the answer is an irrefutable yes.

The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme will provide grants of up to £3,000 towards the cost of full fibre installation for any company who meets the – very accessible - criteria.

The scheme is available to firms that want to upgrade their connectivity to at least 100Mbps using full fibre technology.

The process for applying has been made as simple and bureaucracy-free as possible to encourage more of the UK’s legion of SMEs to get onboard.

The only caveat is that when the £67m pot is gone, it’s gone. It’s a first-come first-serve offer that needs entrepreneurs and businesses to act quickly and stake their claim for a share of the money.

If businesses from our region don’t go for it, forward thinking businesses in other parts of the country certainly will do.

The last time the Government launched a similar initiative in 2015, KCOM saw a huge demand for broadband vouchers with more than a 1,000 Hull and East Yorkshire businesses taking the opportunity to sign up to our Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) Lightstream broadband.

The signs for this latest voucher are similarly encouraging – but there’s always room for improvement.

So if you’re still undecided about whether ultrafast broadband is the right direction to go for your business then consider its advantages.

Full fibre (FTTP) is the gold standard of broadband, the Rolls Royce of connectivity compared to the disappointingly average saloon car of Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) or worse, the increasingly outdated diesel of ADSL.

But will full fibre benefit your business enough to justify the investment?

Well, for a start, having a fast broadband service that doesn’t ‘fall over’ on a regular basis not only improves productivity but enables you to respond more quickly and engage better with customers.

A stable broadband platform enables businesses to offer more and better services. It can also allow them to take advantage of cloud computing, improve communication between colleagues by connecting multiple PCs, phone systems and devices for working on the move and also reduce IT infrastructure costs.

It’s also future proofed. That means no matter what happens in the future, as your need for broadband speed and data increases, full fibre can grow with you with no need for expensive infrastructure expenditure.

If you’re a rural business not part of a local fibre network – or likely to be in the near future – the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is an ideal way to encourage your local supplier to extend their offering to your premises. A fibre provider that will have its costs of extending its network covered - or at least partially covered - by the Government is likely to look very seriously at the opportunity.

Finally, no matter what your business is you need to be online to compete. If you’re not online you’re nowhere. Whether you’re a hairdresser or an international exporter you can guarantee if you are not online your nearest competitor will be, gobbling up all those Google searches for your services.

The best way to compete is to have a great website and the broadband capability to get the most out of it.

So if, as they say, time truly does fly then now is undoubtedly the right occasion to seize the moment.

If you’ve been procrastinating over whether to step into the new digital future, now is the time to grasp the nettle and take advantage of the Government’s helping hand.

For more details click here.

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