Council extend ultrafast broadband scheme for Manchester businesses

A host of Greater Manchester businesses are set to benefit from ultrafast broadband thanks to the extension of a successful council-led initiative.

The Superconnected Cities scheme, which was due to end this month, has been extended for a further twelve months – giving more organisations the chance to upgrade their existing connection. 

Manchester City Council has issued 1,800 vouchers worth £3,000 for small and medium-sized businesses in the whole region, with the scheme previously only covering the Manchester and Salford areas.

The 1,000th voucher was recently granted to Couchbase, a Silicon Valley-based tech firm who recently moved into new premises in the Northern Quarter.

David Haikney, the leader of the Manchester team at the company, pointed out the importance of ultrafast broadband connection for small businesses.

He said: “For any expanding business wanting to project a professional image, high speed broadband is absolutely essential, so this voucher scheme really is a no-brainer.”

“A big part of our role in the Manchester office is customer support. That means regular video-conferencing with customers and our colleagues over in California.

“Having the best possible internet connection is therefore crucial for our professional image. Claiming the grant funding was tremendously straightforward for us – and it meant we had the internet connection we needed from day one.”

Under the scheme, businesses are able to apply for vouchers that would cover the costs of getting a fast broadband connection directly into their business premises, meaning they only have to pay the VAT and monthly subscription cost.

Companies only have to pay VAT and their monthly subscription to Superconnected if the costs are anything above £3000.

A voucher can be claimed by an individual organisation, or several organisations can apply as a group, through a landlord or agent.

David, who is actively searching for new employees, explained that Manchester had become a thriving city for business – particularly the Northern Quarter area.

“The Northern Quarter is an amazing, welcoming area and very attractive to tech companies,” he said.

“It has the potential to become globally important as a high-tech base, but for that to happen, the right infrastructure has to be in place.”

Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, added: “Nearly two thousand local small to medium-sized businesses and other organisations are up to speed with superfast or ultrafast broadband connections.  

“Now we want to see even more people taking advantage of the Superconnected Cities scheme.  

“A superfast internet connection can make organisations more efficient and easier to develop.  There’s no better time than now to take advantage of this grant funding.”

Sajid Javid, the Secretary for Culutre, Media and Sport said: “I’m delighted that Manchester and Salford has taken up the challenge to become one of the UK’s Superconnected Cities as part of the Government programme.

“It’s vital that our cities have the digital infrastructure like superfast broadband and wifi in place to deal with the demands of the digital age.

“Our investment in Manchester and Salford has delivered a welcome boost to the local economy, and is all part of our long term economic plan.”

More information on the Supperconnected Cities scheme and how your business could benefit can be found by clicking here.

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee with thanks.

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