Council money could bring broadband boost across West Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 21:51 02 September 2014 | UPDATED: 21:51 02 September 2014

Thousands of people across West Norfolk could be set to benefit from increased broadband coverage and speeds.

Connectivity could be improved courtesy of a £1m cash boost if local councillors approve.

Under the proposals, £500,000 will be invested by West Norfolk Council, with the sum set to be matched by cash from the Better Broadband for Norfolk campaign (BBfN).

It is hoped that the money will help connect 83pc of homes to superfast broadband by the end of 2015.

The issue was discussed at a council meeting in King’s Lynn last night.

Chief executive Ray Harding said: “This is a really worthwhile scheme, which if we do put the money towards, it would really benefit those especially in rural areas.

“The council’s aim is to achieve a 95pc level of broadband coverage within West Norfolk.

Two years ago, the county council agreed to spend £15m on boosting coverage in Norfolk where just over 43pc of homes had access to superfast broadband at 24Mb per second speeds.

Meanwhile in West Norfolk, just 78pc of people have any broadband connection, and figures in a 2013 Quality of Life survey showed that just 4pc of respondents currently have access to superfast broadband.

Mr Harding said: “Areas such as King’s Lynn and Downham Market if plans go through should see a complete commercial roll over in super fast broadband.

“But it is also really important to get good coverage to as many households as we can.

“We need to help rural parishes or remote locations who might feel that they might not get a good deal from their local authority, and struggle to gain much or any access to a reliable connection.”

Cabinet members will meet up to discuss the report on Wednesday, September 10.

The council will not need to make a final decision and formally commit to spending the money until next year, when it will become clear which homes will have to wait for a faster connection.

Once the BBfN has completed the next call-off contract, the procurement would be expected to be completed in early 2015.

Areas that are still then not scheduled for improved broadband will be analysed by the council at that point, and a final decision on the commitment of funding will then be made.

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