Concerns have been raised about the future of rural broadband after the Government closed a funding scheme designed to help local businesses.
SMEs in Northumberland have been able to apply for connection vouchers designed to help companies install faster services. These vouchers were worth up to £3,000 and should have been there to give companies faster business broadband. The Government’s BDUK initiative funded the scheme. In some rural areas of the county, companies have been working together to create a strong broadband infrastructure.
However, the scheme has now been closed and companies that have not yet applied for funding will not be able to get a connection voucher. The deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, Dave Ledger, has said that getting access to faster services is becoming more and more important for businesses and they have a right to expect these faster services.
The council has confirmed that it is committed to providing the faster services for rural areas. Around 260 businesses in the county were able to take advantage of the scheme, but there are other companies that still want to apply for funding to get the right business broadband. The county council is looking at different ways in which the companies can be helped, and it is calling upon local MPs to help businesses. It is hoped that around 90% of companies in the county will have access to faster services before the end of the year, and a second phase of the project will start next year to take coverage to 95%.