Better Broadband roll out hits 50,000 home landmark, say BT and Norfolk County Council

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
5:33 PM

After years of campaigning, more than 50,000 Norfolk homes and businesses are now finally benefiting from high speed broadband, 10 months after a scheme to upgrade connections to our homes and businesses was launched.

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Case Study - Tony Sutton

Tony Sutton lives in south Norfolk and now receives a faster broadband service after a fibre broadband cabinet was installed nearby by Better Broadband for Norfolk.

He said: “Faster broadband has helped to make our lives easier. I’m deaf and rely heavily on the internet to make phone calls, contact people and businesses, organise interpreters and appointments, and to keep up-to-date with the news. Our old broadband speed was dreadfully slow, always buffering or losing connection.

“We can now use Skype to stay in contact with family and friends using British Sign Language. My son is deaf and he can now use BBC iPlayer to watch Magic Hands and Mr Tumble. We also use the internet to access applications to help our son develop his speech and language. Our daughter is hearing and we will be using the internet to help her to learn sign language to communicate with the rest of her family.”

Norfolk County Council and BT say progress on their Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) has been “a fantastic achievement” after installing fibre optic cabling and green roadside fibre broadband cabinets in communities across the county.

The 50,000 home milestone comes 10 months after the first upgraded superfast services were made available in Croxton last July, with further recent improvements in Downham Market, Hunstanton, North Walsham and Watton. Fakenham, Dersingham, Heacham and Poringland will join them later in the year, according to BT.

The go ahead for the BBfN project was secured in 2012, with BT and the county council striking a £41m deal following the EDP’s Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign.

It will be rolled out until December 2015, with BT expected to provide coverage of at least 24Mbps to 80 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses.

The county council claims it is also in discussions to secure millions in match funding to add to the £15m handed over by the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) agency. An announcement is due this summer.

George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “It’s impressive how much has been achieved by this public-private sector partnership in a relatively short space of time.

“Norfolk is ahead of most other counties that are part of the BDUK programme and we’re really starting to shed the ‘poor cousin’ tag in terms of our broadband connectivity. The importance of this cannot be overstated – it makes Norfolk a more attractive place to live, work and do business, increases educational opportunities and decreases social exclusion.

“Better Broadband for Norfolk is largely focused on bringing better broadband to the county’s more rural areas – its villages and market towns. This means the number of properties that will benefit from each new fibre cabinet can sometimes be quite small, which is why public investment is necessary to make doing the work commercially viable.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for next generation access, said the work so far was a “fantastic achievement”.

“This investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create and protect local jobs in communities across Norfolk,” he said.

“It will be of enormous benefit to households and to local businesses, which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”

The high-speed network installed by Openreach is available on an open, wholesale basis to all communication providers.

Each roadside fibre broadband cabinet serves homes and businesses in a very localised area such as part of a village or town. As faster services become available, people will be able to check whether their home or business can receive them via the Better Broadband for Norfolk website.

For more information about the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme, visit www.betterbroadbandnorfolk.co.uk.

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