The news comes as Exeter has been approved to join the Government Broadband Connection Vouchers Scheme from 1 April.
Most of the country can get superfast Broadband but some people might live or work in an area where it is not yet available. Government and local authorities are investing £1.7bn to help bring superfast Broadband to over 95% of the UK by 2017. One of the initiatives to realise this aim is the provision of Government Broadband Connection Vouchers. The scheme is already active in 22 cities and, following work carried out by Exeter City Council, Exeter has now joined the approved list.
Who can apply?
• Small or medium-sized companies (or individual workers working from home) • Those within the EX1 – EX5 postcode areas • Those who can demonstrate that the use of vouchers (up to a maximum amount of £3,000) will ‘help their business get better Broadband’
What can the Connection Vouchers pay for?
Connection Vouchers can pay for anything that will help an Exeter business get better Broadband. For example, the Connection Vouchers could pay for fibre connections, a better Broadband link or better lease arrangements. Hoteliers could use vouchers to install wi fi for use by their guests. Importantly, where no superfast Broadband provision exists in a certain geographical area, neighbouring businesses can club together to use their Connection Vouchers to establish Broadband links where none existed previously.
How should Exeter businesses apply?
Exeter businesses should apply to Exeter City Council in the first instance as this local authority will be processing applications. However, the administration will be carried out by Bristol City Council as they already have a system in place to handle Connection Vouchers applications. Detailed instructions will appear on the Exeter City Council website by 1 April.
Cllr Rosie Denham, Exeter Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, said: “Broadband provision has been an issue for parts of Exeter for some time. Unusually, it has been businesses rather than homeowners who have been the most disadvantaged in recent years as service providers have prioritised the household market.
"We know of a businessman on Marsh Barton who has for some time emailed CAD drawings from his place of work to his home computer in order to forward information to his clients in the evening simply because his Internet connection at work was far too slow to cope.
"The inclusion of Exeter in this initiative is therefore very much welcomed and I hope that Exeter’s small and medium-sized companies will take advantage of the Connection Voucher scheme to upgrade their Broadband connection.”
Government Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is fantastic news for Exeter as we know how important a fast broadband connection is for businesses across the UK. We want to make sure that small businesses have the technology they need to compete in the digital age. This scheme will help tens of thousands of small businesses around the UK and I urge all Exeter SME businesses to apply for a voucher from April 2015 onwards.”