It’s a familiar phrase now that every business today is a digital business, but this will mean different things for different firms.
For a retailer, it might mean connecting with customers through social media to spread promotions and reward loyalty. Elsewhere, a hotel may see it as managing booking systems and taking reservations online, or a manufacturer may look to streamline operations on their factory floor or reach out to new suppliers or customers overseas.
But whatever digital means to your business, you won’t be able to achieve the full potential of the technology unless you have the basic building blocks in place, and this means a strong internet connection.
The need for strong connectivity
Fast, reliable broadband connectivity is the foundation for everything a business does in a digital first environment, yet for many businesses, it’s still something they struggle to secure.
Many businesses – particularly those in rural areas – are hampered by connectivity based on old-fashioned copper cables that leave them suffering from slow speeds and poor reliability that means they cannot access many of the key technologies that are now essential to running a modern business.
Indeed, the UK as a whole still lags behind many of its European neighbours when it comes to average broadband speeds and, while work is being done to rectify this situation, it’s a slow process, with current targets suggesting it will by 2033 before every premises in the country is connected to fast, full-fibre broadband technology.
Most firms can’t afford to wait for infrastructure developers to bring gigabit-speed broadband to them. But at the same time, many are put off from going out and securing the technology they need themselves because they believe it will be too expensive to obtain this connectivity.
Fortunately, there are numerous schemes and incentives to help businesses get the fast, good connectivity without breaking the bank, and for small and medium-sized enterprises, the most useful is likely to be the government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS).
Securing the help that’s available
The Gigabit Voucher Scheme looks to help businesses cover the cost of bringing high-speed full fibre broadband to their premises, which could be the catalyst that transforms a company from a digital laggard into an industry-leading digital native.
It offers up to £2,500 to small and medium-sized firms to deploy gigabit fibre broadband to their premises, with any company that has a turnover of less than £50 million and fewer than 250 employees eligible to claim the cash.
It’s also easy to take advantage of. All a business simply has to do is contact a broadband supplier that is part of the scheme, and the provider will approach the government, carry out the necessary installation works and claim the money directly from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
If you are eligible, there’s really no reason not to – it’s essentially free money from the government to improve your business, and who wouldn’t want that? However, this fund isn’t limitless. There is just £67 million set aside to help SMEs secure gigabit broadband, and two-thirds of this has already been spent.
Once its gone, there’s no guarantee the fund will be replenished, or that the government will develop a new scheme to replace it. Therefore, if you don’t take this opportunity while it’s there, you could end up being left behind while more proactive competitors put in place the building blocks that will ensure their digital future.
Firms that don’t take advantage of this offer could end up having to wait years for gigabit technology to reach them, and that’s time they can’t afford to lose. While other companies take advantage of fast, reliable connectivity to take their business to the next level, you could be left staring at a blank screen, still waiting for a web page to load. That’s why you need to act quickly to make sure this doesn’t become your reality.
Watch our video to learn more about the GBVS and the benefits of Gigabit Business Broadband