Breckland backs £950,000 broadband investment


- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

Sluggish broadband speeds and excruciating download times could be a thing of the past for a internet users in Breckland after backing was given to a £950,000 improvement plan.

Breckland Council's Cabinet met in Dereham this morning to give its backing to invest nearly £1m to ensure 94pc of the district is covered by broadband services - a 6pc increase on the present coverage.

Members heard a report from officers and Karen O'Kane, Norfolk County Council's programme manager for the Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) project, that also included plans for a satellite voucher scheme which will be available to the remaining premises not able to get speeds of 2Mbps.

The plans were roundly supported by the cabinet, with Breckland set to be the first district authority in Norfolk to commit funds to the scheme.

Bill Borrett, councillor, said: 'I'm very proud that Breckland has come up with this extra funding as it is vital for the community.

'This is exactly what our residents would want us to be spending money on and it shows we are at the cutting edge.'

Previous concerns had been raised by members that the deal did not offer value for money.

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Michael Wassell, leader said the evidence was that it did.

'We've always said this has to be value for money but the expertise is with BT and they are saying this is the best way to achieve maximum coverage.

'There won't be 100pc coverage with this current programme, but there are alternatives going forward,' he said.

The satellite scheme is run nationally through the government's Broadband Delivery UK team and eligible applicants will be given a subsidy code which can be used with satellite providers.

The second phase will see investment from the district council match funded by the government.

Cash from a £5.3m excess subsidy 'claw-back' from BT will also be added to the pot, with Breckland set to benefit from around £3m overall in broadband improvements.

Government and claw-back funding will provide £2.50 for each £1 of council investment.

Westminster has announced a commitment to universal broadband of at least 10MB per second by 2020.

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