First registrants give their views on Norfolk faster broadband campaign

Visitors to The Forum yesterday were counted among the first to register their support for the Better Broadband for Norfolk campaign.

They included former chief constable of Norfolk police, Ken Williams, 67, who said he received 'really slow' internet service at his home in Surlingham, near Brundall.

He said: 'I think we fight above our weight in Norfolk and here is something we can do to improve communication incredibly. There are more and more people of my age and older who are locked into IT and feel a bit vulnerable in being locked into a system which doesn't work properly.

'I have got acquaintances in their 80s, and even a couple in their 90s who, if it were not for IT now, would be very lonely people. It is really critical for them. With people's modern lives and children living abroad, you need things like Skype to maintain contact with them. It means a lot to those isolated people.'

Colin Blakemore, 69, a retired overseas aid worker from Thorpe Park, in Norwich, said: 'We have been out on a limb for donkeys' years and it is about time Norfolk caught up with the things other people have had for a long time.

'It is the only way we are going to go forward. Norfolk has been very quiet and placid in the past, but now is the time to make a noise and get heard. If someone falls over in the street, you wouldn't ignore them, hoping someone else would pick them up. You would do it yourself.'

Chris Zanone is general manager for information systems and development at poultry producer Bernard Matthews, where the poor broadband links are affecting the firm's ability to communicate with its 60 rural farms and 2,000 employees.

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He said: 'It is a massive difficulty for us, because we have locations that don't get broadband on site so we have to use satellite or 3G dongles. It means we are operating at the sort of dial-up speeds most people were getting 15 years ago.

'When you get a simple task like opening a bundle of emails, it takes half an hour when it should take five minutes.

'We've even had instances of people driving to other sites to use the computers, and then coming back, because it is faster. It does cause some inefficiencies for us. If we are to improve both the economic and social benefits for Norfolk's population, we need to support this campaign. We are going to send out a communication to all our employees, highlighting the benefits of broadband and how they can sign up. It will help businesses become more efficient, which in turn will benefit ourselves, our employees and the region as a whole. It is a must.'

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