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The government has launched a new consultation detailing how its Urban Broadband Fund can be used to improve business internet connectivity.

Some £150 million has been set aside to ensure ultra-fast broadband is available across the UK's leading cities, however the planned infrastructure work was scrapped last month after the European Commission raised competition concerns.

In response, the government has developed a new strategy, which would see the introduction of connection vouchers to boost fibre broadband adoption.

Under the plans, one-off subsidies would be available to businesses with up to 249 employees, providing they have a turnover no greater than €50 million (£42.4 million) per year.

The vouchers would fund - or part-fund - the one-off connection charge associated with a service upgrade, but not any recurring charges or subscriptions. These would remain the sole responsibility of the voucher recipient.

Responses are now being sought from businesses and other stakeholders over the plan and its potential implications, on the industry and end-users.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said the government is aware that the costs associated with getting broadband connections featuring the reliability and speeds that businesses need can be a barrier, especially for smaller businesses.

"The connection voucher scheme aims to overcome this barrier, by subsidising up-front installation costs for super-fast and ultrafast broadband with a primary focus on small and medium-sized enterprises," he stated.

"The voucher will work with the market, will be technology-neutral and therefore put the choice of connectivity into the hands of the businesses that can benefit from them."

Mr Vaizey said the aim is to provide the "step-change in connectivity" that is needed for the UK to remain competitive in the 21st century digital marketplace.

"As part of that we are determined that the voucher scheme should generate maximum competition amongst internet service providers to provide the connectivity solutions that businesses need," he stated.

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