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The reach of the government's Connection Voucher scheme, which offers broadband upgrade grants to small businesses, appears to be extended.

Set up to help create 'Super-connected cities' in the UK, and supported by the £150 Urban Broadband Fund, the Broadband Delivery UK initiative originally supported small businesses in 22 major urban centres.

These included London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

In April this year, it was extended to another 28 cities - such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Swansea - in order to help more companies improve their connectivity.

But it seems the government is going a stage further, by enabling small businesses outside of major urban areas to bid for broadband grants of up to £3,000.

Go Digital Newcastle - Newcastle City Council’s broadband upgrade project - has revealed that the Connection Voucher scheme is being rolled out across the whole of the north-east region.

This indicates a change of policy for the scheme, and much broader scope.

According to Go Digital, the Connection Voucher scheme has been extended to County Durham, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland and the Tees Valley.

Councillor Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council Cabinet Member for Investment and Development, said this is a "fantastic" free offer for small businesses across the region.

"Hundreds of businesses in Newcastle have already snapped up Connection Vouchers," he explained.

"They are discovering all the advantages that superfast broadband can bring - easier, quicker contact with their customers, a more reliable internet service and reduced costs through more efficient working."

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