By Steve Maton, Director at 5 Rings Group
The Gigabit Voucher Scheme is a really hot topic at the moment. If you’ve not heard about the scheme, it was launched back in March by the government in an attempt to offer UK businesses the fastest and most reliable internet speeds available. It offers businesses the opportunity to claim up to £3,000 against the cost of installing Gigabit connections. At the moment lots of registered suppliers to the scheme are sending out emails promising £3,000 towards a quicker connection. However, there are limitations (and hidden costs) to the scheme and if you’re really thinking about upgrading your internet connection there could be better alternatives.
Clearing the confusion
Let’s get this right, it’s a great scheme, in fact we’re registered suppliers. However, some suppliers aren’t being clear about the scheme when communicating with their clients and this is causing some confusion.
Firstly, the scheme is only available to SMEs. The government defines this as: any business that employs fewer than 250 people and has an annual turnover not exceeding €50million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43million. This includes sole traders. Also, you must not have received more than the permitted amount of de minimis aid in the last 3 years.
Secondly, the connection you have must be Gigabit capable and you’d still need to pay the ongoing rentals for the duration of the contract. Whilst you may receive up to £3,000 towards the installation (that might not cover all the costs) your monthly costs could be anywhere between £400 – £800 per month depending on your location and the speeds you need. For smaller SMEs, the costs will most likely outweigh the benefits. Could you justify £400 – £800 per month for a 1000MB connection if you have 10 employees?
The scheme is worthwhile if you’re large enough. If this applies to you, you should definitely be getting in touch with one of the registered suppliers. If you don’t fit this criteria but are still interested in upgrading your internet speeds there are better alternatives.
Alternatives to the Gigabit Voucher Scheme
The cost of connectivity has dropped significantly, so if you’re considering upgrading your internet connection it is worth contacting your current supplier to review your options. Good suppliers should be able to offer you a better deal.
For example, we’re currently able to offer many customers 100MB for the price of 50MB. That’s twice the speed for the same price, and prices could be as low as £250 per month. And these connections are available UK-wide, not just in six pilot areas. This offer may not be available long-term but we anticipate being able to offer this at least until the end of 2018.
Whatever the size of your business, it is a great time to be considering upgrading your internet speeds. If you’re a larger SME, based in one of the six pilot areas, you should be getting in touch with a Gigabit Voucher Scheme registered supplier. If you’re not in one of the six pilot areas, there are still deals to be had.
Please get in contact with us if you want us to review your business broadband. For information visit us online at 5 Rings Group.