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A digital media agency has become the first enterprise in Sussex to benefit from the Connection Voucher Scheme.

Brighton & Hove City Council has issued the first voucher to We Are Tilt, with Metranet, a local wireless ISP (Internet Service Provider), providing their ultra-fast internet connection. This case study embodies what the Connection Voucher Scheme is all about.

More information about the Connection Voucher Scheme can be found at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/connection-vouchers and www.connectionvouchers.co.uk

Over recent years Brighton & Hove has developed its own cluster of creative and digital businesses, fuelling a local digital economy that is rapidly growing.

Brighton company We Are Tilt had struggled to find an affordable solution to their slow broadband problem, which occasionally resulted in employees having to run to coffee shops to upload work!

Jon Malyon, Managing Director of We Are Tilt, said: “Four years ago we were a three people and a dog start-up. Our business broadband package suited us fine to begin with but we found, as we grew and employed more people, we desperately needed more bandwidth.”

Brighton & Hove was one of a number of cities across the UK to be selected as part of a government scheme to offer businesses better access to high speed quality broadband.  There is £1.5m for vouchers in Brighton & Hove.

The scheme is open to small and medium-sized businesses with premises in Brighton & Hove and offers financial assistance to improve Internet connectivity, with each voucher offsetting up to £3,000 of capital costs associated with installing a broadband connection.

Roger Horlock is the Managing Director of Metranet, the first supplier to work with the council to deliver faster and more reliable broadband using the scheme.  Roger commented: “The Connection Voucher Scheme presents our city with a unique opportunity to create a radical step-change in Brighton & Hove’s broadband infrastructure.  Metranet can leverage the scheme to bring the cost of broadband down to a level affordable to many smaller businesses, which would not otherwise benefit from fibre leased line services.  We have built a wireless network across the whole city, supporting many digital businesses with their access to the internet and offering scalable solutions”.

Metranet’s rooftop installation of a wireless fibre service for We Are Tilt coincided with the agency’s move to new premises in Brighton’s New England quarter.  Within their multi-discipline design studio, We Are Tilt have seen their broadband capabilities jump from 3 Mbps to 100 since the installation.   Jon Malyon commented: “Within the office we’ve already noticed our stress levels drop, it’s making us more efficient, less frustrated and generally happier!”

Company bosses believe the new service will allow We Are Tilt to continue expanding and help take the business into new directions. “It’s already made us so much more efficient; clients can view projects within minutes when previously some of these uploads would have taken hours, even days”, said Jon.  He added: “It means we can move the business forward and expand into new areas which previously we couldn’t have considered. As we keep growing, the bandwidth can also be expanded.”

According to the Brighton Fuse report published by Wired Sussex, the value of Brighton & Hove’s tourism industry is set to be eclipsed by the digital economy. Phil Jones, Managing Director of Wired Sussex, said: “Brighton’s digital cluster is one of the fastest growing and creative in the country. But it is clear that the city’s infrastructure – and that includes broadband – hasn’t kept pace with that growth”.

Brighton & Hove City Council is looking forward to issuing many more vouchers in the weeks and months to come.  Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “We won this government cash to support our city’s reputation as a hub for digital and creative businesses. We’re delighted to be able to offer it as funding to help our businesses grow and diversify. Improving broadband in the city is essential to keeping us at the cutting edge, and removing barriers to local firms competing globally online.

“The council is working hard with partners to support our local economy’s continued success. Any business can benefit from the faster, more reliable connections these vouchers can help pay for, but it will especially help our many wonderful local technology, digital and creative businesses.”

Up to 1,000 businesses are expected to benefit from the scheme, and vouchers can be pooled to pay for a shared connection with very high bandwidth.

Metranet’s Roger Horlock is excited about what this could mean for the city: “We are currently rolling out gigabit wireless infrastructure across the city and we’re keen to talk to businesses, landlords, residents associations, housing co-ops and tourism venues to see how they can all benefit from being part of Metranet’s Wireless Fibre network” he explained, adding: “It’s about operational efficiency and productivity, offering radically faster connectivity at a price small businesses can afford, enabling them to consider new strategies and grow into new areas. Brighton has been undeserved in the past; we have the ability and now, with the government’s help, we have the opportunity to create this step-change by ourselves.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “We are witnessing a transformation of broadband in the UK which will be instrumental in driving our economic growth. Metranet and We Are Tilt have demonstrated how these vouchers will save businesses in Brighton and Hove thousands of pounds, as well generating thousands more, and I strongly urge businesses to make the most of this offer to ensure they are properly equipped to compete in today’s digital age.”

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