THE UK GOVERNMENT has put its broadband Connection Vouchers scheme on hold. The initiative offered small and medium-sized businesses up to £3,000 to upgrade to superfast broadband.
More than 40,000 companies signed up to the scheme, and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DMCS) had originally planned to continue accepting applications until March 2016, or until funds ran dry.
This is now the case, and the DCMS has confirmed that the funds have been used up and that the scheme will be suspended for the time being.
A DCMS spokesperson confirmed the suspension to The INQUIRER, as does a note on the Connection Vouchers website, while dodging the question about whether the scheme will be relaunched.
"We are delighted that tens of thousands of businesses have received a voucher giving them access to an affordable superfast broadband connection," they said. "We have now suspended the scheme pending confirmation that the remaining funds have now been allocated."
The suspension comes after the government reminded businesses last month that vouchers were issued on a first come, first served basis, alluding to the fact that funding for the scheme was starting to run dry.
Digital minister Ed Vaizey urged businesses planning to apply to act quickly, saying: "Our offer to small businesses has been a tremendous success and is proving incredibly popular.
"More than 40,000 UK businesses have already taken up our offer, which is aimed at boosting their broadband speeds as well as their bottom line.
"Businesses need to act now to ensure they don’t miss out on this fantastic offer and I’m urging all eligible businesses to apply now before it’s too late."
Companies in London had been issued the most vouchers as of 25 August at 11,664, followed by the North West with 6,344 and Yorkshire and Humberside with 5,734.
News of the Connection Voucher scheme running out of money comes just weeks after Virgin Media announced plans to treat businesses in Manchester to a boost in the broadband department.
As part of a £75m expansion in the city, Virgin Media said that it plans to provide broadband to 3,000 companies in a government-backed technology startup hub in Manchester's Northern Quarter, delivering speeds of up to 1Gbps depending on firms' needs. µ
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