The government has suspended its £40m broadband connection voucher scheme after the budget ran out owing to high demand.
The scheme had been open to SMEs in 50 cities around the UK to receive grants of up to £3,000 to cover the cost of installing high-speed broadband services in their premises.
The government confirmed in early September that 40,000 businesses had already been awarded grants, and warned that time was running out to apply for any more funding as the pot dwindled.
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DMCS) explained that those who had applied for funding ranged from architects, estate agents and mechanics to event coordinators, cafés, graphic designers and caterers.
A spokesperson for the DCMS has now confirmed that the funding appears to have been used up, and that the scheme will be suspended for the time being.
"We are delighted that tens of thousands of businesses have received a voucher, giving them access to an affordable superfast broadband connection,” they said.
“We have now suspended the scheme pending confirmation that the remaining funds have now been allocated."
The Connection Voucher website also confirmed this was the case but said that more information will be released in the future about the scheme.
V3 asked the DCMS whether it had any plans to relaunch the scheme with new funding but had received no reply on this question at the time of publication.
Businesses in London were the most eager to sign up for the vouchers, 11,664 receiving grants as of September, followed by the North West with 5,724 successful applications.
The clear demand for faster broadband services comes amid debates in the broadband market about whether BT's Openreach division, responsible for most fibre rollouts in the UK, should become a standalone company or stay within BT.
BT also recently outlined plans for the next five years, citing an ambition to ensure that everyone in the UK can get speeds of 5Mbps to 10Mbps and as many as possible on between 300Mbps and 1Gbps.
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