Broadband Vouchers extended outside Bristol city

Thursday, September 11th 2014

The Bristol City Council has decided to extend the Broadband Connection Vouchers scheme to businesses outside the city's boundary. This move aims to push up the interest in the voucher scheme and so other cities may follow suit soon. The scheme has seen low uptake and some issues, but is part of the government's £150 million Urban Broadband Fund aimed at Super-Connected Cities. The scheme helps SME businesses with vouchers of worth from £200 to £3,000 for a firm, to install a superfast broadband connection (of 30Mbps+) on a one-time basis.

To make the voucher scheme more attractive, several changes have been made. The scheme is opened to registered charities, social enterprises or sole traders which also often includes home businesses. Bristol City Council (South West England) has decided to go further by extending the scheme outside the city's administrative boundary to within 5 miles, to make it possible for some 2,300 businesses to become eligible. It is likely that others of the 21 cities coming under the scheme would follow suit. If a local authority observes that the budget is not going to be fully utilised by the March 2015 end date, it could expand availability similarly.

Bristol City Council's move puts SME businesses from local authority areas of Filton, Winterbourne, Kingswood, Keynsham and Potishead also eligible. Assistant Mayor of Bristol, Mark Bradshaw, commented that the scheme has been well received in Bristol and they're pleased to expand it, with permission from the government, across the traditional borders.

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