Culture Secretary John Whittingdale urges SMEs to sign up to broadband voucher scheme

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, left, visiting Ipswich company IJYI.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, left, visiting Ipswich company IJYI.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has urged more small and medium-sized businesses in and around Ipswich to sign up to a scheme which provides the funding for the infrastructure they need to get fast broadband connections.

More than 25,000 small and medium businesses (SMEs) across the UK have now benefited from the Government’s Broadband Connection voucher scheme, but just 60 have signed up so far from the greater Ipswich area out of about 20,000 SMEs.

Mr Whittingdale visited IJYI, a small but growing software development business in Ipswich which has signed up and is now poised to expand its business further.

The Government says the scheme, which helps SMEs get connected to superfast broadband has seen a huge surge in demand in recent months. It has made £40m available in 2015/16 for the scheme, and the vouchers are being issued on a first come, first served basis. Funds have not been ring-fenced for individual cities, and Government is encouraging all eligible businesses to apply before the available funds are exhausted.

The scheme allows businesses to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband.

“Obviously, the scheme has proved hugely popular,” said Mr Whittingdale. “The demand for speed is enormous - both for residential and for business.” He added that IYJI “quite plainly is going to benefit hugely.”

IJYI owners Chris Pont and John Nicholson explained how it sometimes took up to half a day to upload one item because of sharing a line with around 40 other users. With their new infrastructure they have the same 20 megabits all to themselves.

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“We can just concentrate on our software development which is what we’re good at,” said Chris.