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Thousands of Norfolk businesses could get ultrafast broadband boost if £20m bid succeeds

PUBLISHED: 12:44 14 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:48 14 November 2018

Norfolk County Council is bidding for £20m from the government to put ultrafast cabling across the county. Pic: Jan Woitas/DPA/PA Images.

Norfolk County Council is bidding for £20m from the government to put ultrafast cabling across the county. Pic: Jan Woitas/DPA/PA Images.

DPA/PA Images

Thousands of businesses across Norfolk could benefit from much faster broadband speeds - if a bid for up to £20m to the government succeeds.

The bid by Norfolk County Council is seeking millions of pounds so that full fibre optic cabling can be installed in more than 400 publicly-owned buildings across the county.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport money would not only increase internet speeds in those publicly-owned buildings, but businesses and people living near to those buildings would also be able to access the ultrafast broadband.

Through existing voucher schemes, business and residents would be able to get cheap connection to the cabling, with ‘ultra-fast broadband’ promised.

At a meeting of the county council’s digital innovation and efficiency committee, councillors agreed to continue to develop the bid.

A report which went before councillors stated: “Full fibre connectivity availability for Norfolk residents and businesses is minimally available outside of Norwich and this is a real problem for many businesses, schools and in specific sectors such as mobile network operators.

“We believe that improving high speed internet availability across Norfolk will enhance the current and future strategic importance of Norfolk as a location for new and developing businesses, not least because of the location of Norfolk and its proximity to Cambridge.

“Greater availability of fibre can help ensure long term economic and social benefits that are critical for transforming the county.”

Conservative Tom FitzPatrick, chairman of the committee welcomed the bid application. He said: “I think this is something which could bring lots of advantages. It might even reduce the need for people to commute to Norwich.”

Norwich and King’s Lynn will not benefit, as the government focus is on rural areas.

Meanwhile, thousands more homes and businesses in Norfolk will be able to access superfast broadband, after the council secured a further £11m of funding.

Currently 92pc of homes and businesses have access to download speeds of at least 24 megabits per second, but the latest funding will increase that percentage further.

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