The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is now closed.
Technology is constantly improving, and few technologies have brought more benefit to businesses than fast, reliable internet connections. Yet many small businesses are not able to take advantage of improvements, either due to regional availability issues or simple cost – often a business has a functional internet connection, and improving it would simply cost too much upfront.
In an attempt to level the playing field, the UK Government implemented the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme, which ran from December 2013 until October 2015 where more than 50,000 vouchers for superfast broadband connections were issued to small to medium-sized businesses.
Those in receipt of the vouchers were able to claim up to £2,500 towards the installation of a then cutting-edge internet connection. In light of its success, the government launched a similar scheme in 2017 trialling a Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which allows small businesses to claim up to £2,500 towards the installation of gigabit-capable internet connections, as part of a £200 million ‘full fibre’ investment plan.
Where is it available?
After an initial trial run in four UK areas, the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme expanded nationwide in April 2018.
How to qualify
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme promises to offer between £500 and £2,500 towards infrastructure costs of a gigabit-capable connection, providing certain criteria is met.
The connection needs to be ‘gigabit-capable’, providing speeds of at least 100 Mbps, which must be at least double the current speed received by the business. This connection must be procured with a minimum 12-month contract, of which at least six months must be paid.
Additionally, the business must employ fewer than 249 employees, have a turnover of less than €50 million, or have received under €200k of public grants in the last three years of contracting the relevant package.
If you want to get a basic understanding, watch our short 60-second video below.
Benefits of the scheme
Under the previous broadband voucher scheme, 50,000 businesses improved their internet connections, seeing an 18-fold speed increase on average. 86% of these businesses reported to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that the internet upgrade had increased the productivity of their employees.
An additional 70% of businesses reported that their ability to deliver a quick and reliable service had dramatically improved, and more than one-third of the businesses involved developed new products or gained access to new customers and markets because of the improvement.
A number of businesses also opted to pool their vouchers to improve local infrastructure in areas where high-speed connections were previously unaffordable or unavailable, providing long-term service improvements and cost reductions.
On average, firms that participated in the broadband voucher scheme saw a £1,300 profit increase per annum and employed 0.27 extra full-time employees, equating to a £8 return per every £1 invested by the scheme.
With the vast increase in online services available to businesses, including VoIP, cloud storage solutions, and other hosted services, the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme promises to deliver at least as much benefit to another round of businesses.
Regardless of the focus of your business, internet connectivity is business-critical in the modern world. The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme gives businesses an extra boost to improve their communication speed and reliability and enables them to take advantage of a huge range of emerging digital services and communication channels. If your business is eligible for this scheme, it represents a fantastic opportunity that should not be ignored.