Campaign countdown continues for Better Broadband in Norfolk

Shoppers and visitors to the Forum in Norwich joined the dash for registrations as the Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign countdown continued yesterday.

There are now just three days to go before Norfolk County Council begins its procurement process to find a telecoms industry partner for its project to bring a superfast internet upgrade to the majority of the county.

The sign-up tally for the EDP-backed campaign has passed 12,000, with another 150 registrations collected at yesterday's event – but many more are still needed to generate an irresistible demand which private investors cannot ignore.

Among those who filled in a form were Peter Gavin-Rowney, a former rock drummer who has toured with Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer and a young Reg Dwight – who later ascended to superstardom as Elton John.

Since quitting the music business in 1989 and moving from California back to Forester Close in Tuckswood, Norwich, the 65-year-old said he had indulged a 'midlife crisis of sorts' to start writing an autobiography including his tales of life on the road.

That is where his frustrations about Norfolk's technology infrastructure are centred.

'I have been wrangling with BT for the last five years, and for the first three the service was good, but then it started flying on one wing,' said Mr Gavin-Rowney.

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'These days I like to call myself a writer, so obviously I do a lot of research online. I upload stuff and I download text. If you are online with a publisher, and you want to send something that you want to be your bread and butter, but the upload drops out – sometimes they start to take umbrage.

'I think this whole area is ripe for redevelopment of the right sort, and the internet is a key part of that.'

Mr Gavin-Rowney said he also needed the internet to keep in touch with his friends across the USA, Australasia and Europe.

Sara Phillipson, part of the Beter Broadband project team collecting registrations at the Forum yesterday, said: 'A lot of people told us they came into the city specifically to sign up. They have seen the articles in the EDP and they said they have been meaning to do it, but now they have responded to the call to arms.

'It is really important to people. The quality of the service many people are getting is really putting them off using their computer. It is so frustrating that they have to avoid using it at certain times of day. It may be they have got used to 'Skyping' their relatives at a certain point on a Sunday evening, and it can be quite upsetting if they find they cannot do it.'

?The Better Broadband for Norfolk project hopes to bring superfast 30Mbps download speeds to as much of the county as possible by 2015. The Say Yes campaign aims to prove the commercial demand which will tempt private investment in the scheme. Norfolk residents and businesses can sign up at www.norfolk.gov.uk/sayyesnorfolk, or by calling 0344 800 8023.

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