Norfolk’s �30m superfast broadband deal to be signed today

Council bosses will today sign a �30m deal which they hope will provide 80pc of Norfolk's businesses and properties with access to superfast fibre broadband by 2015.

Norfolk County Council's agreement with BT also aims to allow the estimated 44,000 houses in broadband 'not spots', areas where there is no access, to have the opportunity to access a minimum speed of two megabits per second (Mbps).

Officials believe allowing more people to make use of internet speeds of at least 24Mbps, and better broadband in general, will boost the region's economy by making it easier for people to do business.

Bill Murphy, BT's managing director of next generation access, will visit County Hall, in Norwich, today to officially launch the project. The council will put �15m into the project and has received a further �15m from a government broadband fund.

Efforts to secure improved access are said to have been ongoing for two years, and included the EDP-backed Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign. More than 15,000 houses and businesses signed-up to support the project.

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Council leader Derrick Murphy previously claimed improving broadband access was of more importance to Norfolk's infrastructure than dualling the A11.

In September, when the deal was agreed, Mr Murphy said: 'The Lord Lieutenant said to me that this was more important to the county's infrastructure than dualling the A11 and I think that is an understate- ment. It is an exceptional initiative. There are no words which can say just how significant this is for the people of Norfolk.'

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Of the 20pc of businesses and properties not able to access superfast fibre broadband, it is claimed the majority the will receive significantly higher speeds than the lowest of 2Mbps.

Marie Strong, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Wells, who has campaigned on the issue, said after the deal had been announced: 'I'm delighted. In my division, and I am sure other rural divisions, the news that we have taken another step forward in getting better broadband will be met with jubilation.'

A similar �40m agreement with BT is also lined up in Suffolk.

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