£5bn fund will take broadband from 'riding a bike' to 'driving a F1 car'

An Openreach engineer at work Picture: BILLYPIX

A £5billion fund to roll out gigabit broadband across Suffolk has been announced. - Credit: Archant

Broadband customers will see a difference similar to "going from riding a bike to driving an F1 car" thanks to a £5bn package to improve connectivity speeds.

Covering 640,000 premises, the rollout across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire in June 2022 will see businesses and families be offered gigabit broadband.

One gigabit is the equivalent of 1,000 megabits, capable of downloading a high definition film in under a minute.

The scheme, which comes alongside more funding from BT and private investors, will benefit small businesses such as Anchor Storage.

Steve Britt, who runs Anchor Storage based just outside Debenham, said the firm's slow internet was a "nuisance".

"Everything that they designed around broadband now is designed for places in city centres which are getting super fast anyway," he said. "We're always going to be on catch up. It's frustrating.

"These days we everything we do is exchanging data, whether it's whether it's PDF invoices or bulk uploads for orders,

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"So it's pretty essential that we have a really good broadband."

Firms will be able to bid for contracts to install the the Project Gigabit scheme from spring, with “spades in the ground” in the first half of 2022, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said.

According to Lloyd Felton, chief executive of Essex-based County Broadband, the new technology will be a significant upgrade.

Lloyd Felton is chief executive of County Broadband, a firm based in Aldham near Colchester

Lloyd Felton is chief executive of County Broadband, a firm based in Aldham near Colchester - Credit: County Broadband

"The differences is huge," he said. "Fundamentally, it's the difference between riding a bike to driving an F1 car." 

"The service is much more reliable, the speed is dependable and even at 7pm, when everybody is online, you've got something that is going to work as solidly as when you're the only person on the internet.

"People should be able to take their broadband provision for granted.

"With gigabit connectivity that's what you get."

However people will have to wait for the technology to be rolled out.

Mr Felton said: "Government targets will tell you that it'll be 2025. But I'm afraid the reality is for some it will be longer."

Mr Felton's firm works across the whole of East Anglia building networks in small communities and plans to connect approximately 300,000 premises over the next five to six years.

Nationally, BT has committed to reach 20 million premises with gigabit broadband by the mid-to-late 2020s.

A spokesman for the firm said: "We want to achieve this target as soon as we can. To do that, government must remove more of the deployment barriers that slow Openreach and other fibre builders down."