In a bid to overcome connectivity issues and ‘not spots’ in London, Westminster Council has launched the Connect Westminster scheme, a £2.8m project enabled by the European Regional Development Fund.
Westminster City Council has secured funding of £2.8m, including £1.4m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the Connect Westminster voucher scheme, which aims to set up a local broadband connection voucher schemes offering Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Westminster borough ultra-fast broadband connections.
Poor connectivity and ‘not spots’ have been pressing issues for SMEs in the Westminster borough for a long time. In addition to the high loss of earnings for SMEs due to connectivity issues, Westminster ‘not spots’ are having a further impact on London’s economic productivity and international competitiveness. This was highlighted in the Recent London Assembly report, Digital Connectivity in London:
“London’s economic productivity and international competitiveness face a significant threat in the form of poor digital connectivity. The capital is poorly served, suffering from ‘not-spots’, ‘digital deserts’ and a lack of fibre connections.” 
Because of London’s “not-spots” and digital deserts, London has fallen behind its smaller UK “Gigabit City” counterparts:
“Because big telecommunications companies have struggled to deliver for the capital’s businesses and residents, London lags behind smaller UK cities such as York, Coventry and Edinburgh despite its role as a global competitive city. These cities are all significantly better connected, being ‘Gigabit Cities’ where download and upload speeds reach 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps).
Resolving the Issue
To help resolve the issue of ‘not spots’ and poor connectivity in Westminster, Westminster Council has launched the Connect Westminster voucher scheme. The Connect Westminster scheme will enable SMEs to receive up to £2,000 towards the cost of ultrafast capable connections. All connections will deliver speeds of at least 30Mbps and have the capability of being increased to 1Gb speeds.
The issue of connectivity ‘not spots’ demonstrates a critical need for the scheme as the council looks to increase the provision of cost-effective ultrafast broadband. Resolving the issue, through the provision of ultra-fast broadband connections, will in turn enable SME businesses in Westminster to grow, increase productivity and access new markets which are of fundamental importance to London’s position as a leading global city.
Cllr Robert Davis, MBE DL, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage, said:
“Westminster is a national global centre of employment and industry, containing more businesses and employees than any other London borough. With 47,165 businesses and 697,400 jobs and with an expected 14% projected employee growth between 2016 and 2041, which illustrates the significance of Westminster’s contribution to London’s economy and our need for ultrafast broadband, so that we can continue to be the best place in the UK to start and grow a business.” 
M247 Supplier of Connect Westminster Scheme
To support the delivery of the scheme Westminster council ran a supplier registration process to register a pool of registered suppliers who can deliver vouchers under the scheme for which M247 has been chosen as one of the top providers in the scheme for the second time.
M247 owns its own network, fleet and team of expert engineers. This means more control, industry leading SLAs and minimum disruption times. It also delivers both wired Fibre Internet and wireless leased lines, meaning faster speeds and improved quality of data transfer, while reaching even the biggest ‘not spots’ with industry-leading radio and wireless technology.
With a complete set of products, including connectivity, VoIP, hosting and security, M247 is set to serve all the needs of SMEs to work faster, more efficiently and become more profitable with just one point of contact – one provider who wholly owns installations and on-going service needs.