1,000th London business signs up to broadband voucher scheme

26 September 2014

A restaurant and cocktail bar on Oxford Street has become the 1,000th small business in London to sign up to a scheme to gain access to high speed broadband.

The Paramount restaurant, bar and events space, based on the top three floors of the Centre Point building has taken advantage of a Government initiative supported by the Mayor of London which allows small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to apply for vouchers worth up to £3,000 to help them with the set up cost of high speed internet connections.

The connection voucher scheme is a key component of 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.

Pierre Condou founded Paramount in 2008 and his customers have regularly asked him to improve the speed of his broadband connection. He said: “We have a thriving restaurant, bar and events space and we get a lot of customers who visit us because of the fantastic views of London that can be seen from the top floor of Centre Point. We also host quite a lot of events and many of our customers need access to good quality video conferencing facilities.

“Surprisingly, our Internet access is not particularly good at the top of the building and I am determined that we keep up with the latest technological developments. I have looked into getting superfast broadband in the past but have always been put off by the cost. The voucher scheme is a great idea as it means I can stay ahead of the game without spending a vast amount of money. I am sure that the high speed broadband will make a real difference. It is something that our customers regularly ask for and it should help to make our business more successful.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Superfast broadband is of vital importance for small businesses – many of who consider it to be just as crucial as gas, electricity and water. If the city is to remain the greatest place to do business in the world we need to ensure that all of our businesses can access the very fastest broadband available so that they can become super-connected and supercharged, ready to thrive and expand. I would like to encourage all small businesses to find out if they are eligible for this fantastic offer.”

The high-speed broadband is having 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.

The connection voucher scheme will invest up to £23 million in London businesses and is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s ‘Super-Connected Cities’ initiative, which is providing an important boost to SME connectivity in 22 cities throughout the UK.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said: “World class connectivity is one of our top priorities – Broadband in the UK is already regarded as being among the best in Europe. Our broadband connection voucher scheme is providing faster and more reliable internet access to thousands of businesses across the UK, and I’m very pleased to hear that more than 1,000 businesses in London alone have already made use of this initiative. There’s still time to apply, and I urge all eligible small businesses in London to do so right away.”

Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The FSB is delighted that 1,000 businesses have signed up to the Super-Connected Cities scheme. For many London businesses, broadband speed and availability is fast becoming the major infrastructural conundrum. A recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that almost every (94%) small firm in London views a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business. While progress has been made with the residential market, we must go even further than the 1,000 SuperConnected businesses – particularly through assisting them spread the cost of broadband by creating targeted business clusters. More businesses in the capital need to take advantage of the scheme as five per cent of London’s population will still operate with a 2Mbps connection in the year 2017.”

 

Notes to editors

Small businesses can still apply for connection vouchers worth up to £3,000 to help with the installation of superfast broadband. For more information on the scheme or to apply for a voucher please go to https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/

London Infrastructure Plan 2050 Earlier this year, the Mayor launched his London Infrastructure Plan 2050 - the first ever attempt to set out the full range of infrastructure requirements for the capital over the next half century, during which time the population of London is forecast to increase by thirty seven per cent to more than 11 million people. The plan recommends working towards London becoming potentially the first capital city in the world to deploy 5G (by 2020) and to ensure that WiFi coverage is significantly improved.

Connectivity Summit Only last week, the Mayor hosted a Connectivity Summit, where he met some of London’s largest internet providers to discuss how to make the capital the best connected city in Europe and further improve affordable access to superfast connections for homes and small businesses.

Those attending the summit agreed to develop plans that could lead to improved digital infrastructure in London. This could include building the importance of connectivity into the planning system or tackling the issue of landlords who in some cases can be difficult about letting providers into their buildings to run the connections. The group also discussed the best way of introducing a certification scheme that would encourage developers and building owners to improve the connectivity of their properties.

DCMS’s ‘Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future’ In 2010 DCMS launched “Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future”, a strategy to ensure the UK benefited from the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the 2011 Autumn Statement the creation of a new £100 million Urban Broadband Fund (UBF) that will create up to ten super-connected cities across the UK broadband connectivity. Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and up to six further cities will receive support from the fund over the next three years to deliver these speeds.