Published: Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet is set to approve a scheme which will open up Superfast broadband to around 120 extra businesses in the borough.
If an application for European funding is successful, the Marches Broadband Grant project will provide eligible businesses across Telford & Wrekin with a fully funded grant to access fibre broadband.
In Telford and Wrekin, 98 per cent of the borough will be covered by the end of 2017 as a result of the Council’s Superfast Telford partnership with BT and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
The council is committed to seeking a solution for the other 2% of the borough, of which this scheme is potentially one, to get coverage as close to 100 per cent as possible.
The Telford & Wrekin element of the £4m project is seeking £237,818 funding from the European Regional Development Fund , which requires match funding of £158,545.
It is assumed that the level of grant payment to businesses will on average be between £7,000 and £25,000 per business although many grants in Telford and Wrekin are likely to be towards the lower end of the spectrum, as it has more accessible, semi-rural areas.
It will only be open to businesses that have not been broadband enabled by either the current Superfast Telford programme or by other commercial broadband investment.
A total of 124 eligible businesses have initially been identified in Telford and Wrekin and an expected output of around 22 per cent or 27 businesses, including a significant number of micro enterprises will potentially benefit.
Councillor Angela McClements, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Customer and Neighbourhood Services, said: “We have made a commitment to extend fibre broadband coverage across the borough as far as possible.
“The priority is the delivery of Superfast Telford which is still in the early stages of delivery.
“However the Marches Broadband Grant scheme opens up the availability of fibre broadband to businesses that might not be covered by Superfast Telford, although some eligible businesses may receive superfast connectivity via the main programme.
“This demonstrates our commitment to ensure that as close to as 100 per cent of the borough as possible has access to superfast connectivity and all the benefits it brings.”
Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet – which meets on 21 July – is being asked to approve proposals for the match funding mechanism.
They are also being asked to enter into a partnership agreement with project partners Shropshire and Herefordshire Councils to deliver the grant project.