Better broadband could help Norfolk retain high-tech home-workers

Better broadband services could prevent highly-valued workers from leaving Norfolk by giving them the tools to work from home.

That is the opinion of Neil Collins, a senior manager for a San Francisco and London-based software company, who carries out his international work four days a week from his home in Great Moulton, near Long Stratton.

Mr Collins works for Metaswitch Networks, which builds phone systems that use high-speed internet to connect homes and businesses.

After an internet upgrade gave him the opportunity to move back to Norfolk eight years ago from Hertfordshire, he said he enjoys a better quality of life with his wife Ali and three children Christopher, 18, Sophie, 16, and Megan, 9.

Now he has urged people to sign up for the Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign, run jointly by the EDP and Norfolk County Council.


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The campaign aims to prove the commercial demand for a superfast network which could give thousands more workers the social benefits of living in Norfolk rather than living in, or needing to commute to, the capital.

'We really wanted to come back to Norfolk to be closer to family and to let our kids grow up as we had, with the lovely Norfolk countryside and people.' said Mr Collins. 'This wouldn't have been possible, however, if it wasn't for broadband and it's no coincidence that we moved into Great Moulton at exactly the same time that broadband arrived there too. Being in the technology industry, however, I also get to see what's coming down the pipe and one thing is for certain – we're going to need faster internet connections.

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'If we don't, then people who live in our beautiful county will soon start to fall behind the people who live in cities in terms of the services and communications they can access.'

Mr Collins said his current internet link was adequate to connect to his company's network, but would be unlikely to cope with future demands of video conferencing, application sharing and remote presentations without an upgrade.

Mr Collins is also a school governor at Wymondham High School and communications officer for Norfolk Govenors' Network (NGN) – whose 5,000 members have also been contacted asking for their support.

'I'd encourage every governor, parent and teacher in the county to register for the Say Yes campaign, as one thing in our education system that's certain is that more and more of it will be internet based in the future and we need our county's schools to be able to take advantage of that,' he said.

Norfolk residents and businesses can sign up at www.norfolk.gov.uk/sayyesnorfolk, or by calling 0344 800 8023.

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