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Suffolk: Huge broadband boost for county

PUBLISHED: 13:11 25 September 2012

Mark Bee, Leader of Suffolk County Council

Mark Bee, Leader of Suffolk County Council

Archant

EVERY home and business across the county will have broadband speeds of at least two megabits per second by 2015 after a £40 million deal was approved.

The deal between Suffolk County Council and BT - which is contributing £16 million - also means that 85 per cent of people will be supplied with a “superfast” connection - 24Mbps or more - as part of the council’s Better Broadband for Suffolk initiative.

Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk broad, said he was delighted that the deal had been agreed.

He said: “When we launched the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign, we wanted to ensure that everyone who lives and works in our county benefits. Today I’m proud to say that we will deliver exactly that.

“Improving access to broadband is going to help Suffolk’s economy grow by as much as 20% and create up to 5000 new jobs. There’s a digital divide between Suffolk and the rest of the country but an even more acute disparity between urban and rural Suffolk.

“The Better Broadband programme is going to close those gaps, boost school attainment and help the public sector to deliver services more efficiently and cheaply.”

The combined result of ongoing commercial broadband plans for the county and the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme will mean:

90% of premises will get broadband speed uplifts of 10Mbps or more

85% of premises will get superfast broadband

84% of premises currently getting less than 2Mbps will be upgraded to fibre-based broadband

100% of premises will get at least 2Mbps by 2015

100% of the Waveney Local Enterprise Zone will get superfast broadband speeds by the end of 2013

Only 2% of the hardest to reach premises will have speeds less than 5Mbps

The deal was voted through by members of the council’s cabinet during a special meeting at Endeavour House yesterday attended by MPs Peter Aldous and Dr Therese Coffey, as well as leaders from Suffolk’s district and borough councils.

A contract between Suffolk County Council and BT is expected to be finalised by mid-October 2012.

The contract is expected to be formally awarded by the end of October. The first premises to benefit from the programme will do so by the end of 2012 – with the full programme being completed by June 2015.

Suffolk County Council and district and borough councils are investing £11.68 million in the programme, matching the Government’s £11.68 million.

BT already has a number of projects in parts of the county to boost connection speeds for customers in urban centres and its commitment to the Better Broadband for Suffolk partnership is £16 million.

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