Big broadband switch-on is significant boost for Suffolk

Broadband boost

Broadband boost - Credit: Archant

To thousands of households across the country, high-speed broadband is something that is often taken for granted.

But for swathes of rural East Anglia it has taken a hard-fought campaign to secure the millions of pounds of funding that is needed to provide the fibre-optic network that businesses and communities crave.

That finally becomes reality today – as the first cabinets were switched on in communities across Suffolk, marking a 'significant milestone' in the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.

By the end of next month more than 2,500 homes and businesses in 16 locations across the county will receive a major broadband boost with faster internet speeds and improved access.

They will be among the first in Suffolk to be able to order the new high-speed fibre broadband tecnhnology through a a multi-million pound partnership between the county council, BT and the government.


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And today, some three months ahead of schedule, one of the first cabinets is set to be activated in Lowestoft at a special community celebration event.

With three of the 16 cabinets to be connected in the vicinity of Weston Road, Cotmer Road and Mayfield Road in Lowestoft, it means Waveney is one of the first areas to benefit.

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Elsewhere across Suffolk, work is already under way meaning properties in and around parts of Belstead, Kesgrave, Hadleigh, Whatfield, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Sudbury, Felixstowe, Bramford and on the Suffolk-Essex border near Manningtree will also benefit early in the campaign.

Eventually 400 new roadside fibre cabinets will be switched on across Suffolk, meaning every household and business in the county will be guaranteed broadband speeds of at least two megabits per second (Mbps) by 2015, and 85pc will be able to access superfast speeds.

And by March next year, all properties in the Waveney Local Enterprise Zone areas of Lowestoft and Beccles will have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or more.

The progression has been hailed by politicians, council leaders and BT officials.

Last night, Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: 'Superfast broadband is going to make Waveney a better place to do business from, a more attractive area for new businesses to move into and much easier for people to go online and access the services they need.

'The government and county council are investing millions in making this happen so that Suffolk can be both a beautiful county in which to live and work and at the forefront of internet technology.'

Similar sentiments were expressed by Ed Vaizey, communications minister. He said: 'Suffolk, along with the rest of the UK, is undergoing a remarkable transformation of broadband and it's fantastic to hear that the first 16 locations in the county will have access to superfast speeds by the end of September, three months ahead of schedule.'

This early broadband boost has been achieved by engineers identifying areas where BT's existing fibre infrastructure could be extended quickly. And with the new technology providing download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, there is the potential for even faster speeds in the future.

It will mean that businesses in these areas will be able to work faster and more efficiently, while householders can enjoy a boost in speeds for home entertainment.

Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council's leader and chairman of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, was understandably delighted. 'Switching on the first cabinets is a truly significant milestone in the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme and is very much the start of great things to come,' he said.

'It will also make accessing the internet far easier for people. I'm immensely proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time and look forward to seeing the roll-out completed within the next two-and-a-half years.'

Bill Murphy, BT's managing director next generation access, said: 'It is a fantastic achievement that people in Suffolk are already seeing the benefits of this programme. This investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs both in communities like Lowestoft and across the whole of Suffolk.

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

For more information about the Better Broadband Suffolk programme, visit www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com/

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