THE UK GOVERNMENT is boasting that its now cash-strapped Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme helped to boost internet connectivity speeds for more than 55,000 small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
The last we heard, the scheme - which gives companies the chance to apply for grants of up to £3,000 to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband - had seen more than 40,000 firms sign up.
Just weeks after the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced that the scheme has run out of money, it has now announced that more than 55,000 SMBs signed up in total, including architects, estate agents, mechanics, events coordinators, cafes, graphic designers and caterers.
Each of the businesses, according to the release, is reporting a £1,300 per year increase in profits on average.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: "Our Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has been a tremendous success. More than 55,000 small businesses across the UK have taken up the offer, many of which are already seeing significant boosts to their business as a result of improved broadband speeds.
"We're transforming the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create new jobs and attract investment to make the UK an enviable business destination."
The figures also reveal that the big three internet service providers in the UK - BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk - accounted for just 14 percent of the total value of the vouchers as firms instead opted for smaller broadband suppliers from across the UK.
This is all well and good, but companies can no longer sign up for the scheme. The DCMS confirmed the closure to The INQUIRER last month, saying: "We are delighted that tens of thousands of businesses have received a voucher giving them access to an affordable superfast broadband connection.
"We have now suspended the scheme pending confirmation that the remaining funds have now been allocated."
However, although the scheme is no longer, the government has said that some suppliers now offer similar support through free installation and equipment, meaning that SMBs that didn't sign up to the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme can still apply for a free or discounted broadband boost for their business. µ
Could face hefty fines and ban in Russia if it fails to comply
What next?! Self-driving planes... oh wait
It's expected to last for 'a number of weeks'