Croydon’s businesses get broadband boost

By - Tuesday 28th January, 2014

Croydon has been selected in a pilot scheme to rollout faster broadband to small and medium businesses. Becca Taylor explains more

Photo by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier:
Used under Creative Commons License:

Fast and reliable broadband has become a modern-day necessity. We expect it in the local café or pub, and we prioritise it when we move offices or home. Unfortunately, with download speeds peaking at 17 mbps and uploads at a paltry 1.5 mbps across Croydon, superfast business broadband is simply not a reality.

But that could all change, as Croydon has been chosen as one of six London boroughs to be part of a new scheme called ‘Superconnected Cities’. The scheme aims to get superfast broadband to hundreds of small and medium sized businesses, as well as charities and social enterprises. On offer are vouchers worth up to £3,000 to cover the installation and excess charges of a leased line – a dedicated fibre service to the premises. For hundreds of businesses, this could bring a dramatic improvement to their broadband service, offering a reliable connection to run VoIP or videoconferencing, symmetrical upload and download speeds and much better speed overall.

Superconnected Cities is backed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, but coordinated locally by Croydon Council. Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, voiced his support for the scheme in a blog, but if that’s what peaked your interest, be warned. He rather misleadingly states that the scheme offers “high speed broadband connections entirely free of charge” – the monthly cost of the leased line is not covered by the voucher, so needs to be budgeted for by the company. Costs average around £400, but you can save in other places to balance the books.

For example, if your telecoms bills are high, you might want to consider using VoIP instead. Similar to the principles of Skype, VoIP runs voice over the line, dramatically cutting your costs for phone calls, even internationally. Companies with high travel costs could save by running video conferences instead – helping to save on time wasted travelling and buying train tickets. Staff in general will be more productive with faster broadband, and those working from home will see a huge improvement in file-sharing when they can access a system with high upstream speeds.

Any Croydon small- or medium-sized business, including sole traders, (and charities and social enterprises) can apply for the voucher, provided that: they are asking for the connection to their workplace; it will bring a solid improvement on their current connection speeds; they haven’t received more than £120k in grants in the last three years; and they’re happy to sign up for a six month contract with installation costs over £250.

Three Croydon-based ISPs are registered as suppliers with Superconnected Cities, (ICUK, Vanilla IP and Zebra IT) which offers other Croydon businesses a good chance to support each other. If you’re interested in installing a leased line, you’ll need two quotes from registered suppliers, which you can then use as part of your application form. Once you’ve been approved, the installation process can begin, and you can make the most of superfast broadband without the crippling price tag.

Becca Taylor

Becca Taylor

Becca is a newcomer to South London, currently living in Sutton and working in Purley, as's Head of Marketing. She has a background in politics and journalism, and is slowly learning the ropes in the tech world. A graduate of Swansea University, Becca is also a keen fitness enthusiast and a proud fan of Southampton FC.

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