Superfast broadband starts at snail’s pace

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THERE has been a slow uptake in Portsmouth companies applying for a share of a £2.2m pot for superfast broadband.

Firms can ask for vouchers worth £300 to £3,000 to cover installation as part of a government scheme.

But, in five months to date, just four have asked for it, with critics saying the line rental is too expensive and the programme hasn’t been well publicised.

Andrew Reynolds, is the operation director at V3 Recruitment, in Commercial Road, Portsmouth.

He said: ‘We’ve already got the grant for the installation process.

‘The fact that we can be supported by the grant is a great benefit.’

But he said line rental prices for the scheme could be putting people off as they can reach up to £300 a month.

Portsmouth City Council got the cash for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Super-Connected Cities programme on December 7.

It is one of 22 in the country to secure the funding.

Ed Vaizey is the minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

In a statement he said: ‘Since Portsmouth launched its scheme in December, we have already seen interest in broadband connection vouchers. We expect to see this increase considerably in the coming months.’

He added the scheme has attracted hundreds of applications nationally.

Darren Beck is the sales director at Trinsic, a supplier for the scheme based in Whiteley.

The firm joined the programme at the end of March

Mr Beck said: ‘It’s been quite slow. Everyone we have spoken to, hardly anybody has been from Portsmouth.

‘It’s only been a few weeks but it’s quite difficult for businesses to know about it in the first place.

‘It’s not been explored enough by the council or the government.’

The city council is running a workshop for firms looking to apply but Trinsic was told it cannot attend.

The deadline to apply is March 2015 with more than 270 suppliers.

Mel Burns, programme director for Super Connected Portsmouth said: ‘We are seeing interest in the scheme growing in areas of the city where there is currently no broadband provision at all.’

See connectionvouchers.co.uk