More users to get fast broadband

A FURTHER 134,000 homes and businesses in Suffolk are to benefit from the latest phase of a project to roll out super-fast broadband.

Communications giant BT has announced that 12 more communities will be connected to the high-speed Openreach network by autumn 2012 as it forge ahead with its �2.5billion roll-out programme.

The communities that will see speeds boosted by the Openreach roll-out are Ipswich, Sudbury, Felixstowe, Foxall, Belstead, Bungay, Hadleigh, Mildenhall, Stowmarket, Whitton, Woodbridge and Lowestoft and the extension will mean more than 180,000 homes and businesses in the county will have access to super-fast connections.

Dave Hughes, BT’s regional director, said: “Our latest investment in Suffolk will propel internet users at home and at work into the 21st Century fast lane, and marks another milestone in the development of Suffolk’s next generation communications.

“We have plans to take super-fast broadband to two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2015 but we don’t want to stop there. We have long said reaching the largely rural and remote ‘final third’ will require a partnership approach and we welcome the fact that the UK government has recently allocated funding of hundreds of millions of pounds for next generation broadband initiatives for these more challenging areas.”

The news has been welcomed by business groups in the county and Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We know that the roll-out of superfast broadband continues to be a priority for businesses across the region.

“This investment is another step towards ensuring SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) across both rural and urban areas are able to thrive and grow in line with their competitors across the rest of the UK and abroad and we hope that its roll out will include areas including such as the important New Anglia Enterprise Zone.”

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John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, echoed Mr Wood’s words and said: “Suffolk Chamber and our members have been backing the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign and have been working closely with our partners such as Suffolk County Council to make sure businesses do not get left behind.”

Speeds are expected to double under the new programme, but David Adams, managing director of IT support company Gryff Computing, based in Saxmundham, warned even faster broadband was still needed if Suffolk businesses are to compete with big-city firms. Mr Adams said: “It will make a difference in our day-to-day use. However, it won’t make an enormous difference to the really heavy-duty users. People still won’t be able to host a popular website from here because the speed will still be too low.”