Saturday, 7 December 2013

Broadband programme provides £10 million boost for Leeds and Bradford businesses

Businesses in Leeds and Bradford are to benefit from a £10 million share of the £100 million ‘superconnected cities’ programme launched today (Saturday 7/12/13), designed to help boost productivity and make a step change in the way companies do business.

‘Connection vouchers’ worth up to £3,000 will be available through the programme to businesses in the two cities to cover the installation costs of upgrading to a superfast or business grade broadband connection.

The progamme is being launched in 22 cities nationwide during ‘Small Business Saturday’, an initiative to support smaller, independent businesses throughout the UK during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“The broadband market is moving at an incredible pace. Today, businesses expect and demand faster and faster broadband to compete in the global race.

“Connection vouchers will be an important tool for cities in helping to address that demand, and Government has now allocated up to £100 million to provide a digital boost to superconnected cities like Leeds and Bradford.”

The voucher scheme is open to all small and medium-sized enterprises* in Leeds and Bradford, with 2,500 – 3,000 businesses expected to take advantage of the offer and upgrade to a faster broadband connection.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and the economy said:
“It is extremely disappointing that the Government has unable to progress the Superconnected Cities programme as originally envisaged.

“Investing in infrastructure to create a superfast broadband corridor connecting Leeds and Bradford would have brought the benefits of high grade broadband not only to individual businesses but to a much wider range of communities across the two cities.

“Nevertheless the support for SME businesses is welcome and will help significantly improve productivity and their competitiveness.”

Mark Goldstone, head of business representation at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber said:
“High speed broadband connections allow businesses to do things quicker and do things more efficiently. Faster processing times and a more reliable connection mean large amounts of data can be transferred quickly and businesses can communicate with customers more easily and in different ways.

“By reducing downtime in other areas of the business it means companies can do more and they can do things they couldn’t do before. By using technologies such as cloud computing to store and access data, companies can also avoid having to invest in expensive server hardward and know how within the business.”

Businesses can register their interest in the scheme with immediate effect via the website www.connectionvouchers.co.uk and will be able to apply for a connection voucher from late January 2014 when a dedicated website for the scheme will be launched to promote the scheme to businesses in Leeds and Bradford.

Vouchers can be used to support a variety of technical solutions, including both wired and wireless connections.

Companies simply have to complete an online application form and obtain two supplier quotes
The vouchers only cover the cost of installation and do not cover the ongoing contractual or subscription charges associated with the new connection. Companies must also cover the VAT element of the connection charge, though VAT-registered businesses will be able to reclaim this.

Internet service providers interested in becoming registered suppliers for the programme and working with businesses in Leeds and Bradford – or any of the other cities participating in the scheme – can find further information about supplier registration on the national website.

The ‘Superconnected Cities’ programme is part of a national programme to improve broadband connectivity and is running alongside the Superfast West Yorkshire infrastructure programme, which aims to bring high speed connectivity to residents and businesses in more rural areas.

For more information about superfast broadband in West Yorkshire and government funded projects to improve access visit www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk

[Ends]
Notes to editors
1. Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are companies with fewer than 250 employees and a turnover below €50m per annum
2. High speed or business class broadband offers a step change in capability either through a dedicated or ‘uncontested’ (bandwidth shared with other subscribers) connection and effectively doubles existing connection speeds to no less than 20Mbs, with the potential to upgrade to 30Mps in the future.

For further information, contact:
David Baggaley, Marketing Manager, Leeds City Council, Economic Development david.baggaley@leeds.gov.uk
Or contact Leeds City Council press office on 0113 395 0244