Suffolk broadband promise after council strikes deal wth BT
13:21 24 September 2012
Every household and business premise in Suffolk will be guaranteed broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2015, and 85pc will be able to access superfast coverage, it has been revealed today.
Suffolk County Council has announced that it plans to work with BT to implement the county’s Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.
It means that within just three years, nine out of 10 Suffolk properties will be connected to fibre-based broadband and will be able to get speed increases of at least 10Mbps.
By the end of next year, the entire Waveney Local Enterprise Zone area will have access to superfast speeds of 24Mbps or more.
Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair man of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme broad, said: “When we launched the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign, we wanted to ensure that everyone who lives and works in our county benefits.
“Today I’m proud to say that we will deliver exactly that.
“Improving access to broadband is going to help Suffolk’s economy grow by as much as 20% and create up to 5000 new jobs.
“There’s a digital divide between Suffolk and the rest of the country but an even more acute disparity between urban and rural Suffolk. “The Better Broadband programme is going to close those gaps, boost school attainment and help the public sector to deliver services more efficiently and cheaply.
“Since I became leader of the county council, I have been determined to get Suffolk’s broadband aspirations back on track.
“I am therefore delighted that we’ve come such a long way in such a short space of time.
“By the end of the year, the first properties are going to start benefiting from the programme and within three years, broadband access across Suffolk is going to be unrecognisable from what it is today.”
During supplier negotiations, council officials placed emphasis on extending access to reliable and upgraded broadband connections to all premises in Suffolk, not just faster speeds where it is easiest to deliver.
Only 2pc of the hardest to reach premises will have speeds less than 5Mbps.
Bidders were asked to make an early start on improving access in the hardest to reach areas of Suffolk.
This requirement is to be met with the most remote areas benefiting earliest. A detailed deployment programme will be announced in the coming months.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), welcomed the news that Suffolk’s broadband provision will be given a shot-in-the-arm.
CLA East regional director Nicola Currie said: “The process in delivering effective broadband to Suffolk has now moved a vital step forward. High speed broadband is essential not only for business but for education and re-training as well as helping communities and, in the future, providing better healthcare.
Rural house prices and the ability to let rural office space are also directly affected by broadband speeds.”
A contract between Suffolk County Council and BT is expected to be finalised by mid-October 2012. The contract is expected to be formally awarded by the end of October.
The first premises to benefit from the programme will do so by the end of 2012 – with the full programme being completed by June 2015.