East Riding communications provider KC has announced a new scheme to enable more businesses to benefit from ultrafast broadband.
Until the end of this year KC is to cut cost of connection to its Lightstream service for SMEs by up to £1,000, meaning many businesses will get a free connection to the transformative fibre broadband network.
The move comes after the runaway success of the Government’s ‘Superfast Britain’ voucher scheme which gave eligible businesses across the UK a grant of up to £3,000 to cover the cost of installing superfast broadband.
The scheme was introduced in 2012 and extended progressively to 50 cities across the UK, with Hull joining the programme in April 2015. More than 1,000 local businesses signed up to it before it was suspended last month when the £40m of funding that had been allocated to it for 2015/16 ran out.
With little notice that the scheme was ending, many local businesses were left unable to take advantage of the opportunity to switch to superfast broadband without the burden of up-front connection costs.
KC has lobbied Chancellor George Osborne and Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey to provide further funding for the connection voucher scheme so that more Hull businesses can benefit from the productivity gains superfast broadband can bring.
However, pending a Government decision KC, has also decided to fund its own connection offer to help companies make a step change in connectivity and, as a result, business performance.
Alan Worthing, KC’s Director of Business, said: “The Superfast Britain scheme was an outstanding success. More than 1,000 businesses used vouchers from the Government to switch to our ultrafast Lightstream service and the feedback we’ve received about the positive impact has been tremendous. However, because the scheme ended with very little notice, we know there are many local businesses – perhaps hundreds – that missed out.
“We want to help as many local businesses as possible get affordable access to ultrafast connectivity, enabling them to work in new ways to boost productivity, efficiency and profitability.”
To address the pent-up demand, KC is reducing the cost of connecting to Lightstream by up to £1,000 for orders placed before 31 December 2015.
This means business customers in existing Lightstream roll-out areas will receive free installation, saving them a £120 connection fee. Businesses in parts of KC’s network where Lightstream is not already available can get connected for £1,000, which is half the usual connection fee charged beyond roll-out areas.
Mr Worthing added: “The KC-funded offer will, in many cases, enable local businesses to connect to our game-changing Lightstream broadband network completely free of charge. In areas where we haven’t yet installed the fibre infrastructure, businesses will be able to hook up to Lightstream at a significantly reduced cost.
“Given the time of year, this is an opportunity for business owners to give themselves a Christmas present that they will enjoy the benefits from all year round.”
The first Hull firm to take up the Government’s scheme is one of many who testify to the transformational impact of Lightstream.
Paul Rymer, pictured, owns of Peckhams.com, an independent computer sales and repair shop on Holderness Road, Hull. His connection speeds had gone from 4 Mbps to 100 Mbps. “Repairs and upgrades can now be done within an hour or two, compared with two days on the old service,” he said. “I wish I’d had Lightstream 10 years ago as I get 10 times the amount of work done!”
KC offers businesses download speeds of at least 100Mbps (megabits per second), which is officially designated as “ultrafast” and four times faster than the definition for “superfast” broadband.
Eligibility criteria for the KC offer are the same as for the Superfast Britain scheme:
- It applies to SMEs that employ fewer than 250 people or volunteers.
- They must have a turnover of less than €50m (around £41m) and/or have a balance sheet of less than €43m (around £35.5m).
- The applicant must be a trading entity – so sole traders are eligible, as are not-for-profit organisations and charities, provided they meet the SME definitions above. People who are employees are not eligible.
- Funding is for connection only and the business must not have previously had a connection voucher through the Government scheme.
- The offer is available across KC’s network in Hull and East Yorkshire
Businesses can register their interest at firstname.lastname@example.org