Commsworld Explain What Expansion of Government Voucher Scheme Could Mean to Small Businesses in Scotland

by Brian Lewis

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

PR Photography in Edinburgh ScotlandBusinesses in four Scottish cities are being urged to take advantage of a ‘gilt-edged’ opportunity to improve their broadband and internet services – for free!

The £100m UK Government Connected Voucher Scheme initiative, launched in December 2013, allows SMEs, not for profit organisations and charities, in a select number of cities, up to £3000 in grant funding to improve their connectivity – allowing them to improve efficiency and customer interaction without the spend.

From Wednesday (1st April) the scheme will be expanded into Glasgow, Stirling, Dundee and Inverness – meaning businesses in all seven Scottish cities can access the grant.

The UK wide scheme got off to a slow start in terms of interest from businesses but momentum is now building. In March, Network communications news website ISP review reported that the scheme has so far helped 14,000 SMEs gain access to better connectivity.

Edinburgh based communications specialists, Commsworld, an authorised provider for the scheme, has been surprised by the slow uptake in Aberdeen, Perth and Edinburgh to date, but say it has seen the work covered by the grants make huge differences to the businesses who have been sharp enough to take advantage of the government scheme.

Andy Arkle, Commercial Director at Commsworld is now urging the newly qualified businesses to take advantage of the first-come-first-served free money on offer to improve their operations and services.

He said: “For some small businesses the overall benefits of faster broadband are not obvious, but they are tangible, immediate and can have a huge impact on efficiency and the bottom line.

“We provide businesses with better and faster connectivity on a daily basis, so we see first-hand the huge difference it can make and we have certainly seen that in many client firms who have quite rightly taken advantage of the money on offer.

“The only mystery is why more businesses in Edinburgh, Perth and Aberdeen haven’t accessed the funding, but this could be great news for firms in Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling and Dundee as there is a substantial pot of money to apply for.”

Commsworld have worked with 46 Scottish based clients to date that have taken advantage of the grant scheme to reclaim £132,471.20 spent on installing superfast broadband.

Andy added: “There are numerous benefits of having faster and more robust connectivity. On the commercial side a business can increase profits by attracting and keeping more customers, improve customers experience by enabling a quicker and more consistent interaction and offer better means for collaboration through video calls and cloud based software and sharing.

“The operational benefits are also huge as it can increase efficiency, future proof the business by keeping it in line with digital enhancements and it can also reduce the cost of software and hardware by using online applications.

“If you can gain these benefits using someone else’s money, surely it’s a no brainer?”

The Connected Voucher Scheme is aimed at improving broadband and mobile infrastructure throughout the UK. Edinburgh City Council partnered with the government for the pilot scheme and Edinburgh was then included in the ten city official launch in December 2013

To be eligible for the scheme businesses must gain one quote from an authorised provider list, the cost must be over £200 with up to £3000 funding available, it must be for a business premises and you must sign up to a 12 month contract. Full details are available on city council websites as well as https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/.

As well as being an authorised provider for the scheme, Commsworld can also provide more robust and faster connectivity by connecting businesses through its own Fluency network – the only dedicated Scottish network of its type, serving Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Using their own network allows quicker access to data without it being bounced first through servers in London or Manchester and then back to Scotland, which is the case with more traditional bigger providers.

Commsworld, founded in 1994, is Scotland’s leading Unified Communications specialist and Network Provider, providing customers with a full range of integrated communications solutions.

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Public relations account director with Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Private: Brian Lewis

Brian Lewis is part of the expert PR team at Holyrood Partnership, a multi award-winnning Scottish public relations agency, which offers media relations, social media, photography, video, crisis management and PR in Edinburgh.

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