More than 13,500 say Yes to Better Broadband in Norfolk
After 12 weeks of campaigning, more than 13,500 households and businesses have said Yes to Better Broadband, giving a ringing endorsement of the county's urgent need for an internet upgrade.
The campaign, launched in January and run jointly by the EDP and Norfolk County Council, was designed to give specific demand information which would tempt private investors.
Everyone from schools to stately homes, farmers to TV stars, industry leaders and community campaigners have added their voice to the clamour for a future-proof communications network which could boost lifestyles and livelihoods.
Last night's sign-up figure is not yet final, as hundreds of printed forms collected during the weekend will be input today, and the registration process will continue throughout the procurement process.
But it will provide a crucial bargaining tool as the process begins to find a telecoms industry partner with the know-how to build Norfolk's new superfast network – and the financial backing to add the �30m of public money already secured.
Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Thank you so much to everyone who's taken the time to support this crucial campaign, 13,500 yeses from unique households and businesses in Norfolk is a great achievement in two and a half months.
'Everyone who has said yes has made a real difference to our county's future. There's no doubt that this information will put us in a much stronger position when talking to potential private sector partners and will mean more properties receiving superfast broadband services from as early as next year.
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'The impact of improved broadband services will be huge, from efficiency and marketing opportunity benefits to existing businesses – by which so many of our companies are currently held back – to improving learning opportunities and creating a more level playing field for school and college students across the county. Better broadband will also allow our county to compete more readily on a national and international level, helping us to attract more business, visitors and, ultimately, investment.'
EDP editor Peter Waters said: 'Well done to everyone in Norfolk who realised the importance of this campaign to our county and signed up. This total represents a significant message that Norfolk wants superfast broadband to ensure we're not left behind in the telecommunications slow lane.'
The Say Yes campaign has eclipsed previous demand stimulation exercises in the region.
The Erebus (Eastern Region Broadband Uplift Scheme) project ran a demand registration process between November 2009 and March 2011, which received 4,336 sign-ups from Norfolk. Meanwhile, BT's Race to Infinity exercise generated 8,940 responses from 70 locations in the county.
Karen O'Kane, programme director for the Better Broadband project, said: 'We cannot underestimate how great a response we have had. We have outstripped Erebus and Infinity, we are ahead of other counties, and the data we have captured is at a level that the suppliers have told us they need for it to be meaningful.
'It has been fantastic to see how people have pulled together around the campaign. It is marvellous, and the feedback we have had from the potential bidders was very good about the way the campaign had been run and the support it has had. It is a great thanks to all the people who have made the effort to sign up.'
?Norfolk residents and businesses can still register their interest in better broadband at www.norfolk.gov.uk/sayyesnorfolk, or by calling 0344 800 8023.