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Business owners in north Norfolk ‘not spots’ call for better broadband

17:56 09 March 2016

John Brooks runs a online recruitment company called FLE Group with his wife Louise Brooks which is being hindered by poor Broadband connections. They fell the issue is impacting on a number of rural businesses in the area as well.

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

John Brooks runs a online recruitment company called FLE Group with his wife Louise Brooks which is being hindered by poor Broadband connections. They fell the issue is impacting on a number of rural businesses in the area as well. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2016

Rural business owners in north Norfolk ‘not spots’ say they are being left languishing in the internet slow lane.

Although more than 80pc of households and businesses in the county can access superfast broadband services, calls are being made to speed up the roll-out.

John Brooks who runs a Happisburgh based health care recruitment and consulting firm criticised the Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme for being “too slow and piecemeal.”

A partnership between BT and Norfolk County Council, it has a target of providing superfast broadband to more than 90 per cent of Norfolk homes and businesses by 2018.

Mr Brooks said: “Broadband speeds are not good enough to allow people to set up businesses in many rural areas. There are so many ‘not spots’ and coverage is quite uncoordinated. I only have 1.5mbps of speed, which is not good enough for the local community, businesses and visitors.

“BBfN don’t get the connection between faster broadband and a growing economy and just see it as a cost and have no real energy and enthusiasm to bring this forward.”

East Ruston Cottages director Sue Allen described the broadband service as “persistently dreadful.”

Mrs Allen who lets out dog friendly holiday homes in north and east Norfolk said: “Running the business for eight years the internet access has always been poor.”

She added: “We have an ancient system that needs to be upgraded and makes running a business a lot more inefficient. Logging bookings online and other simple tasks can take a long time. I cannot get as much work done as someone within a city environment but am paying just as much for the service.”

The second phase for the BBfN programme is currently underway with the first areas set to benefit including parts of Southrepps, Sea Palling, Cawston, Cromer and East Ruston.

Norfolk County Council media officer Susie Lockwood said: “Superfast broadband services are already available in some parts of Happisburgh as a result of the BBfN programme and Mr Brooks has been advised that there is new fibre infrastructure planned in the area and as many properties as possible will be connected to this new fibre infrastructure.

“However, until the detailed survey and design work is completed we can’t confirm which properties can be connected. This is a more complex installation and we do not expect implementation until 2017.”

The first phase of BBfN launched three years ago to provide fibre enabled superfast broadband to rural and hard to reach areas that are not deemed commercially viable

Wells County Councillor and Broadband Working Group chairman Dr Marie Strong said: “Because my division is particularly rural I am very aware there are people who are still waiting for improved broadband.

“While we are all very pleased with what has been achieved so far we are determined to maintain the same level of commitment to ensure many more people living, working and studying in Norfolk can benefit from the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme.”

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