Government investment gets Newcastle superconnected

March 25, 2015
Government investment gets Newcastle superconnected

Small businesses in Newcastle, Gateshead, South and North Tyneside now have extra time to apply for £3,000 grants for better broadband

Newcastle has undergone a dramatic transformation of its digital landscape, latest figures show. As one of the UK’s “Superconnected Cities”, Government has invested in helping Newcastle develop the digital infrastructure it needs to remain internationally competitive and attractive places to invest, visit and do business. Figures released today reveal that almost 300 Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside businesses have been given grants for a faster and more reliable internet service, and dozens of free public Wi-Fi hotspots are created in and around Newcastle and Gateshead.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I’m delighted that Newcastle has taken up the challenge to become one of the UK’s Superconnected Cities as part of the Government programme. It’s vital that our cities have the digital infrastructure like superfast broadband and Wi-Fi in place to deal with the demands of the digital age. Our investment in Newcastle has delivered a welcome boost to Newcastle’s economy, and is all part of our long term economic plan.”

Across the UK more than 14,000 small businesses have taken up broadband grants of up to £3,000 each. The broadband grant scheme (due to finish on 31 March 2015) has been so popular that the offer has now been extended, and is being offered to an additional 28 UK cities.

Newcastle City Council Cabinet Member for Investment and Development Cllr Ged Bell said:

“Newcastle City Council, in partnership, is making Newcastle become a digital powerhouse thanks to the help that our small and medium sized businesses are receiving to get connected to superfast broadband – it’s making Newcastle one of the better-connected cities in the country, which can only benefit the economy of the North East.”

The broadband grants provides up to £3,000 towards the installation costs. Many businesses are also opting to apply as a group to connect bigger or more complicated premises. Once installed, businesses pay the line rental and VAT.

Businesses in Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside can apply by visiting www.connectionvouchers.co.uk The scheme is open to small businesses in 50 cities around the UK and small businesses are encouraged to apply early to avoid disappointment.

One group of Newcastle businesses who have benefited from the scheme are retailers at the prestigious Eldon Garden in the city centre. The shopping centre applied for connection vouchers on behalf of its tenants.

Eldon Garden operations manager Dave Mains said: “Retailers work hand-in-hand with online services and sales these days, so superfast broadband can be a real boost for business.”