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October 30, 2015

Virgin Media makes SMB broadband grab with £1000 grants

News: Grant scheme will cover 50 cities, including London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.

By Alexander Sword

Virgin Media Business called on the Government to reintroduce the Super Connected Cities (SCC) scheme as it launched its own scheme to provide broadband to small businesses.

The scheme will cover the installation costs of broadband for new business customers in the cities where the SCC scheme has been run, replacing the Government scheme which provided broadband grants of up to £3000.

It is not quite like-for-like; Virgin Media has only committed to cover up to £1000 of installation costs. The company said however that 86 percent of installations completed under the SCC programme costed less than £1000.

The list of 50 cities includes London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Virgin Media will trial the programme until the end of the year.

The Government ended its scheme after allocating all the funds. The scheme was originally meant to run until March but was boosted from April with a £40 million challenger fund.

"This fund is now fully committed and the Scheme has closed to new applicants," read the statement on the scheme’s official website.

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"Given the extraordinary take-up among businesses and healthy competition between hundreds of connectivity suppliers, we strongly encourage the Government to reintroduce the scheme," said Mike Smith, Director of Small Business at Virgin Media Business.

"We know one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is upfront costs, including for the likes of broadband."

Virgin Media is not the only company supplementing the Government’s scheme; CityFibre has been waiving its £2500 connection fee since the scheme was suspended in Aberdeen, Coventry, Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Peterborough and York.

It is in the interests of every provider for as many buildings to be connected through their infrastructure as possible, as Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst at Quocirca, says:

"You get people on board with connections and you keep them subscribed. If you provide good service people will stay; they will have factored in the possibility of churn.

"Virgin Media have had a good reputation especially on the business side. They’ve also had a good reputation at extending their network and coverage and putting investment in."

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