Mayor gets London businesses super-connected

07 December 2013

The Mayor of London is encouraging small businesses in the capital to take advantage of a new multimillion pound scheme to provide them with high speed broadband. Businesses can apply for a voucher worth up to £3,000 to help them with the set up cost of high speed internet connections.

From today the first phase of the scheme will be rolled out across six London boroughs: Redbridge, Sutton, Croydon, Enfield, City of London and Westminster, before opening to the rest of London in early 2014. The funding is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s ‘Super-Connected Cities’ initiative, which will see the installation of high speed broadband in 22 cities nationwide.

The scheme underpins the Mayor’s aspiration to provide London businesses with the digital infrastructure they need to realise their full economic potential, in order to drive jobs and growth in the capital and allow them to compete more efficiently in today’s fast-paced global market.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘Today’s markets are more competitive than ever and it is essential London’s businesses are at the forefront, driving our economy forward, with cutting-edge technology at their fingertips. I am delighted this scheme will provide practical support that will enable our entrepreneurs to become super-connected and supercharged, ready to thrive and expand.’

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 super-connected cities like London’.

The high-speed broadband will have widespread benefits for data-hungry SMEs: increasing efficiency by allowing flexible storage and file sharing, improving customer service through super speedy data transfer, and saving travel costs by enabling remote working and videoconferencing. Increased connectivity will also allow businesses to work in partnership to compete for bigger contracts, thereby increasing their chances in today’s competitive market.

Sue Terpilowski, London Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The FSB have long argued that high speed broadband is of critical importance to small businesses. We support the extra investment in this area that will enable small businesses to be more competitive and use their resources more effectively. The launch of this pilot is on the 7th December - which is also the launch of Small Business Saturday in the UK – and we are encouraging policymakers to do all they can to cut the burdens on London’s small business community, and good quality broadband coverage is currently one of those burdens. Quality of broadband infrastructure is of particular concern to small businesses and the growing digital technology clusters in London – but with a growing population and employment levels expected to increase, investment in London’s infrastructure is of paramount importance to meet the demands of small businesses who are keen to grow bigger.”

Applications are subject to criteria and businesses may receive a grant up to £3,000. Businesses and end users must still pay monthly line rental, broadband service charges and VAT. For more information on the scheme or to apply for a voucher please go to www.london.gov.uk/broadband