Cumbrian businesses can potentially access thousands of pounds in government funding to improve their broadband connections.
There are three schemes with different eligibility criteria.
Chamber Chief Executive Rob Johnston said: “Decent broadband connectivity is a business basic and too many firms are making do with inadequate connection speeds.
“I’d urge businesses to take a look at these schemes. They offer a cost-effective route to improve your connection speeds.”
Nick Kittoe, Managing Director of broadband provider Solway Communications in Carlisle, added: “These are important schemes providing grants of up to £3,500.
“In practical terms, it means that a business in Cumbria cam have a dedicated broadband connection, unshared with anybody else, without any significant installation cost.”
Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme
The Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme offers vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each small and medium-sized business (SME), and up to £1,500 per for private homes to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections.
The scheme, which has a total pot of £200m, is open to businesses unable to access speeds of 30mbps, with several areas including Cumbria being prioritised initially.
You can check whether you are likely to be eligible for the rural gigabit voucher by visiting the dedicated government website, which includes a postcode search and suppliers in your area.
No end date is given for the scheme with vouchers essentially being offered on a first-come first-served basis. More information here.
Gigabit Voucher Scheme
Gigabit vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable connection.
A gigabit-capable connection is one that is able to give download speeds of 100mbps.
Businesses can claim up to £2,500 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth £500 as part of a group project.
The government has emphasised that the £67m scheme was originally supposed to run until March 2021 but high demand for vouchers means that funds are now expected to be committed a year earlier.
This scheme is also supplier-led, meaning that a broadband supplier in your area will be able to help you access the vouchers.
The Better Broadband Scheme offers a subsidised basic broadband connection to anyone unable to get download speeds of at least 2 mbps who will not benefit from the superfast broadband roll out within the next 12 months.
The scheme is scheduled to run out at the end of 2019.
Households and businesses that are eligible to take advantage of the scheme have the installation and hardware costs of their connection subsidised to ensure their first-year costs are no more than £400.
The subsidy is used to fund a variety of technology solutions including – satellite, 4G and fixed wireless.
You can find a local supplier to help you with this connection here.