By Jonathan Davies

Small business owners are being encouraged to apply for a free grant worth £3,000 to upgrade the business' broadband facilities.

The government's Broadband Connection Vouchers scheme will allow small business owners from 22 cities to apply for the grant which can be used to cover the capital and equipment costs of upgrading the broadband connection.

It is part of the government's rollout of superfast broadband, which it says will allow small businesses to access new markets, improve security and increase productivity and customer service.

Am I eligible?

- Your business must be based in: Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Derby, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Portsmouth, Salford, York, Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Perth, Cardiff or Newport.

- You must be a registered small-medium sized business (SME), social enterprise or sole trader.

- The installation of your new broadband connection will cost over £100.

- The connection is for your business premises. You can apply for a connection at home if this is your main work base. This does not apply if you work from home occasionally.

- You are willing to sign up to a minimum 6 month contract with your supplier.

- The service you select delivers a speed or performance improvement on your current connection- there are some detailed requirements on speed that you should check before applying.

- You have not received more than around £120,000 in grants in the last three years.

Applications are open until 31 March 2015. You can apply here:

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