A scheme giving Manchester and Salford businesses up to £3,000 support towards the cost of accessing superfast or ultrafast broadband has been launched on Thursday 1 August.
But businesses are being urged to act ‘superfast’ to take advantage of the Manchester City Council and Salford City Council-led grants because the initial pilot only runs until the end of September on a first come, first served basis.
Under the scheme, vouchers – available to small and medium-sized enterprises, from self-employed homeworkers to established firms – would meet the physical costs of getting a fast broadband connection directly into their business premises, meaning they only have to pay the VAT and monthly subscription cost.
Superfast broadband and ultrafast broadband services offer faster download and upload speeds – three to five times quicker than conventional broadband, or in some cases even speedier.
This makes it quicker and easier to transfer large files, use online back-up services to protect data and use higher quality videoconferencing and other services.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Executive Member for the Environment for Manchester City Council, said: “Manchesteris determined to become on the world’s leading digital cities by 2020 and that includes helping our small and medium-sized businesses to access superfast and ultrafast broadband.
“Faster internet connections mean greater efficiencies and access to improved services. This scheme will support the growth of these businesses which play an important role in the city’s economy.”
Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart said: “The council put in a big effort and bold plans to ensure that the funding came toSalford. With the money in place, we are able to give small and medium sized businesses a genuine boost.
“Salford is the home of MediaCityUk, the most advanced technology centre in Western Europe, and with this funding the rest of the city will have the opportunity to connect their business to ultrafast broadband to encourage business growth.”
Accessing the vouchers is a straightforward two-step process. The first step is completing an application form at manchester.gov.uk/superfast, or salford.gov.uk/superfast as appropriate. Eligible businesses will receive a provisional offer and can then approach providers to obtain two quotes. These need to be sent by 30 September and, if approved, businesses will be sent a virtual voucher.
Eligible businesses who do not complete the application process in time for the first phase will have their details carried over into the next phase of the scheme early next year.