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Connection vouchers, providing government grants of up to £3000 for superfast broadband, are now available to Peterborough businesses and charities.
The grants are being administered by Connecting Cambridgeshire, a partnership of local authorities, including Peterborough City Council. It is funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The vouchers pay for the one-off cost of installing superfast broadband, which can be expensive and prevent businesses from getting better connectivity. It is estimated that over 6,500 businesses in the city could benefit from the funding.
Eligible businesses include small and medium companies with fewer than 250 employees, sole traders, home-based businesses, social enterprises and charities. Vouchers are available on a first-come, first-served basis until March 2016.
The grants can be used to pay for the installation cost of connecting to Peterborough’s ultrafast pure fibre network. Businesses can choose from over 500 internet service providers registered for the scheme.
Groups of businesses can also apply together for connection vouchers and pool the funding. This enables a whole office block or business park to be upgraded to superfast broadband.
Connecting Cambridgeshire has already received its first application from a Peterborough business, The Garden Communication and Media Company.
The company will use the connection voucher to pay for the installation of gigabyte fibre using a dedicated line through the city’s pure fibre network. The installation would usually cost £2000, but this is fully funded through the grant.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This is fantastic news for Peterborough businesses, and I’d encourage any firm that’s struggling with slow internet speeds to apply for a voucher immediately. Across the UK, thousands of businesses have already taken up the vouchers and I’m delighted that the scheme has now been extended to include Peterborough as well. ”
Councillor Marco Cereste, Leader of Peterborough City Council said: “Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are leading the way when it comes to installing next generation broadband connections because our businesses need a competitive edge. The roll out of fibre continues across our city and these grants will make it even more tempting for businesses to sign up. If communicating more quickly will give your business a boost I encourage you to look into this scheme.”
Councillor Mathew Shuter, Business Champion at Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Superfast broadband is vital for all businesses and our local economy. I am delighted that we can now offer the scheme to more businesses in our region to ensure that they can grow and compete in an increasingly digital world.”
Connecting Cambridgeshire’s existing business support programme, Destination Digital, has previously proved popular with Peterborough companies looking to use digital technology to grow their business.
Businesses can find out more about connection vouchers and apply online on Connecting Cambridgeshire’s Destination Digital website: www.destinationdigital.info