Revealed: The 29 Norfolk towns and villages that will get faster broadband

Norfolk County Council's final public sign up event for Better Broadband at the Forum, Norwich. Pete

Norfolk County Council's final public sign up event for Better Broadband at the Forum, Norwich. Peter Gavin - Rowney signing up. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

After years of arduous campaigning, negotiation and preparation, the first communities to benefit from Norfolk's 'Better Broadband' project have finally been announced today.

Around 3,500 properties, in about 30 locations, are expected to have access to improved internet services between July and September – three months earlier than originally scheduled.

They will be the first homes and businesses to benefit from the partnership between Norfolk County Council and BT, which aims to connect the isolated 'not spots' which would not be commercially viable without public-funded intervention.

The £41m deal between the telecoms firm and the council, signed following a campaign backed by the EDP last year, means that 83pc of Norfolk's homes and businesses can expect to access high-speed broadband services of at least 24Mbps (megabits per second) by the end of 2015, with 100pc of properties given a useable minimum of 2Mbps.

The partnership had originally pledged that the first phase of locations would be enabled by the end of 2013.

But the bonus round of preliminary connections, dubbed 'Phase 1A' has been made possible after engineers identified areas where BT's existing fibre-optic infrastructure could be quickly extended.

Karen O'Kane, programme director for the Better Broadband for Norfolk project, said the team now hopes to make further announcements every two months on the locations which will be connected during the following eight phases of installations.

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She said: 'It is real, finally. For me, once this wagon starts rolling it will be like a snowball – the momentum will grow and grow and we will constantly see the next lot of locations being announced.

'I know how frustrating it is for people all over Norfolk that we have such poor broadband, but there has been a certain amount of work to do to get this up and running and we've done it as fast as we can.

'We were due to start in September, but we have looked across the county for locations where it would be relatively quick to add some more infrastructure because BT had already installed some of the commercial infrastructure.

'There are villages that are a few miles away from a town with a super-exchange, where there has been existing ducting in place. For example, the industrial estate in Croxton, although it is quite close to the new 'super-exchange' in Thetford, was not commercially viable on its own, because it is a large site with relatively few customers on it. But the economic benefit of getting that site up and running was overwhelming.

'In situations like this, we could use some of the Better Broadband project money to pay for cabinet upgrades and fibre connections from the exchange.'

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'This news is such a huge bonus for Norfolk and I'm sure lots of people living in these communities will eagerly take up these faster broadband services as soon as they become available over the next few months.

'The sooner we start improving broadband access in Norfolk, the sooner our county, its residents and its businesses can reap the benefits, so I'm really pleased that BT and our Better Broadband for Norfolk team seized this opportunity to bring forward these locations.

'The next, much larger phase is still on track for later this year too, so by the end of 2013 our broadband landscape will be starting to look very different.'

The project is in addition to BT's own commercial plans, which have so far made high-speed broadband available to 125,000 Norfolk homes and businesses.

BT's local network business, Openreach, will install the fibre network which will be open to all companies offering broadband services on an equal, competitive basis.

Dave Hughes, BT's East of England regional director, said: 'This is an exciting time for Norfolk and the beginning of a journey.

'This ambitious project will boost the productivity of local businesses and help to attract a more diverse range of high-growth companies to the area as well as offering new training, educational and entertainment opportunities for households. It will play a major role in creating greater prosperity for the county.'

The drive for better broadband in Norfolk began in December 2010 when a bid was launched to win the initial government funding, which was secured in May 2011.

That sparked the EDP's Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign, which generated 15,000 registrations to prove the commercial demand for the upgrade and tempt a commercial partner to invest in the project. The contract with BT was signed in December 2012.

The map shown here outlines the first areas which are set to receive services made possible by the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme between July and September (full list is shown below).

The roadside fibre broadband cabinets that are being connected to the new network serve very localised areas, so project leaders stressed that not all homes and businesses in the areas shown will receive improved services during this preliminary phase.

• Baconsthorpe

• Bayfield

• Bodham

• Broome

• Costessey

• Cringleford

• Croxton

• Ditchingham

• East Beckham

• Emneth

• Gorleston

• Great Yarmouth: South Denes Enterprise Zone, Yarmouth Business Park on Thamesfield Way, parts of the town to the east of Hall Quay, South Quay and North Quay and Southgates Road plus areas centred around the bus depot on Caister Road.

• Gresham

• Gressenhall

• Hempstead

• Hethersett

• Holt

• King's Lynn: some areas of Bentinck Dock, north of Crossbank Road, south of Gayton Road, west of Railway and St James' Roads and either side of John Kennedy Road.

• Letheringsett

• Little Thornage

• Lower Bodham

• Norwich: some areas west of Woodside Rd, south of Cantley Lane, either side of Cantley Lane South, west of Riverside Road, north of Queen's Road and south of St Crispin's Road.

• Saxlingham

• Scarning

• South Wootton

• Thetford: Mundford Road Trading Estate, Threxton Road Industrial Estate and some areas north of Norwich Road.

• Thorpe End

• Upper Sheringham

• West Beckham

As the services become available from July, people will be able to check whether their home or business can receive better broadband services as a result of the Better Broadband for Norfolk project at www.betterbroadbandnorfolk.co.uk.