Free digital upgrades for businesses

Almost 50 businesses in Plymouth are getting free upgrades to their broadband and digital set-up as part of an exciting scheme promoted by the Council.

This scheme is available to businesses and provides a voucher of up to £3,000 to be spent on improving broadband. More businesses are being encouraged to sign up.

Any small or medium-sized enterprise can apply for enhanced connectivity – including those who run businesses from home – and the vouchers can be used to pay for the upfront costs of connecting to superfast broadband or to business grade lines.

Council leader Tudor Evans said: “This sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. A free upgrade worth up to £3,000, virtually no paperwork and a better business as a result – what’s not to like?
“An upgraded package could double the speed of a business’ internet access, making online sales for instance, that much easier to deliver.”

The voucher scheme started in April and the Council is coordinating the offer which stems from a DCMS initiative. The Council is working with broadband providers to increase take-up of the offer – particularly in business parks, where companies can pool their demands and pitch for the fastest possible speeds.

Councillor Evans added: “We are one of the best connected cities in the country with 97 per cent of premises in areas covered by superfast broadband, but we are not sure how many businesses are making the most of this scheme.”

The minimum value of the grant is £100 and the maximum value of the grant is £3,000 per business.
Recent success stories include Darklake View in Estover, which is one of the business parks on the edge of the city. The area historically had issues with connectivity, with businesses experiencing low download and upload speeds. By joining forces companies have been able to pool vouchers to get a better package.

Talem Recruitment Group on Darklake View is currently waiting for the site survey, ahead of the installation and for director Donna Barnes, it can’t happen soon enough. She said: “We can’t wait. Our broadband speeds and WiFi are dreadful as we are the furthest away from the exchange on this estate.

“We found out about the Connectivity Voucher through a local IT provider. They had liaised with a number of other businesses within Darklake View, and this made it possible for us to go ahead and order the new connectivity. The supplier provided the relevant forms which were simple to complete and there was no catch.
“The improved connectivity will make a great deal of difference to our business, as the internet plays a crucial role within the recruitment market to allow us connect to both clients and candidates on a local, national and global level.”

The company is getting almost £3,000 of free installation right to the building and intend to upgrade its phone system to VoIP, an internet based telephone system, which will also lead to considerable savings, she said and added: “People always think there is a catch, but we are getting almost £3,000 worth of connectivity infrastructure to do something that will massively help our business, and help us be more efficient as a business.”

The new connectivity being installed via the new scheme will allow companies to access to superfast broadband of up to 152mb.

Another Plymouth business Aquanauts in Vauxhall Street is currently waiting for their survey to be carried out in order to get the fastest possible download speeds through the offer. The company hosts diving courses and trips as well as sells diving equipment in this country and increasingly abroad.

Owner Derek Smith said: “We are looking forward to faster download speeds, which will be really useful, but also really keen on some of the other aspects of the scheme including social media training, Google search and search engine optimisation, which is becoming increasingly important to businesses.”

The voucher scheme is national and up to £40 million is available to businesses across the country. However it is growing in popularity, and the money is only available until March.

Companies interested in taking advantage of the scheme should visit or visit