Norwich Airport boss joins Norfolk’s Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign

The boss of Norfolk's major international transport hub has joined the calls for a future-proof broadband network which will help the county's economy to take off.

Andrew Bell is chief executive at Norwich International Airport, which handles 35,000 passengers per month and 5,000 commercial flights per year.

He said the combination of aviation businesses, offshore helicopter crews, maintenance teams and support industries meant about 1,000 people were employed at the airport – who all recognised the need for the widespread superfast internet upgrade planned by Norfolk County Council.

Mr Bell added his support to the Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign, run jointly by the EDP and the council, which aims to prove the public demand which will entice private sector investment to the project.

'Our usage as an airport is quite standard compared to most businesses,' he said. 'But the basic point is that the more reliable and the faster it is then the more efficient the business can be.

'It is like having a good transport infrastructure. If you have a dual carriageway it is better than a single-lane carriageway. If you have got a good airport, good roads and good rail – and as a county we are seeing improvements in all three – then it would be a shame to have all that and an old-fashioned internet when you get here. It is the fourth strand of our infrastructure.'

Mr Bell said recent technological innovations including online bookings and self-service check-ins proved that superfast broadband would be needed in future, regardless of the internet speeds available at the moment.

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'If you draw a parallel with aviation, ten years ago the concept of booking online, printing your own boarding card, and booking in your own baggage was relatively new,' he said.

'Nowadays airlines want you to be doing that because they don't want to pay someone to do it for you. All those things use more bandwidth.

'In ten years time, the acceleration of development means you we will need to have superfast broadband. Otherwise, whether you are in aviation or a consumer or in any other business, you could quite easily find yourself limited in what is available to you.'

?The Better Broadband for Norfolk project hopes to bring superfast 30Mbps download speeds to as much of the county as possible by 2015. Norfolk residents and businesses can register their support at www.norfolk.gov.uk/sayyesnorfolk, or by calling 0344 800 8023. There are only four days left for your registration to count in the procurement process, which begins from April 1.

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