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Voucher scheme for fast broadband suspended

The UK Government's programme to give small businesses fast broadband internet was suspended almost five months before schedule because, well, it was very successful.

The Government’s Connection Voucher scheme gifted grants worth up to £3,000 to help smaller businesses in 50 UK cities get a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service installed.

The scheme, supported by an initial £100 million, was supposed to end in March 2015, but it was given an extra £40m and extended for a year. The extension was followed up with a proper marketing campaign, a simplified registration process and an expansion to cover more cities.

All of this resulted in an uptake of the vouchers.

Last month it was revealed that 40,941 businesses have now benefited from the vouchers (up sharply from around 15,000 in Q1 2015), and the ISPs started reporting that only £33m of the £40m extension remained available.

Now, all the vouchers have dried up, with only some funds remaining, which are reserved for applications already being processed.

“The Connection Voucher Scheme is currently suspended. The funds available to the Scheme are close to being fully committed and we have suspended the scheme. Whilst the Scheme is suspended, cities will not accept applications,” said the Department of Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS) in a statement.

At this moment it is unknown if the Government will extend the programme once again, through additional funding. The programme was often criticised, with some saying the money could have been better spent by bringing faster internet to rural areas of the UK.