Suffolk: Super-fast broadband could boost county’s economy by ‘hundreds of millions’, says report

INVESTMENT in super-fast broadband could create thousands of new jobs and start-up businesses in Suffolk over the next 15 years, according to a new report.

BRINGING high-speed broadband to Suffolk could be a major shot-in-the-arm for the county’s economy, a report has concluded.

The study, commissioned by communications giant British Telecom, predicts super-fast broadband could contribute hundreds of millions of pounds to Suffolk.

Regeneris Consulting, the report’s authors, predicts the high-speed technology could create thousands of new jobs and start-up businesses over the next 15 years.

It says, for a typical town, super-fast broadband could give a �143million boost, including the creation of 225 jobs and 140 start-up businesses.

The report chimes with estimates by Suffolk County Council, which says the roll-out of high-speed connections across the county could hand the economy a �2billion boost by creating up to 5,000 jobs and aiding the retention and growth of around 500 small businesses.

Dave Hughes, BT’s regional director for the east of England, said: “This report demonstrates the great benefits that BT’s activities, including its major investment in super-fast broadband, are delivering for Suffolk and will continue to deliver in the years to come.

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“BT’s plans to roll-out next generation broadband across the East of England are already well under way.

“But we want to go further and would very much welcome the opportunity to have an even bigger impact on the regional economy by working with the public sector to make the high-speed technology available in more challenging areas.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “The economic impact of BT’s investment in broadband underlines the importance of super-fast broadband for Suffolk.

“We welcome that which is why the Better Broadband programme is working to spread high-speed connections across Suffolk.”

The report comes after more than 12,000 Suffolk households signed up to the Better Broadband campaign, an initiative backed by the East Anglian Daily Times and aimed at extending the network to rural areas of the county.

Suffolk was given more than �10m by the Government in September to help improve broadband infrastructure.

Suffolk County Council will match this sum before going out to tender in May for a private sector partner, who will be expected to invest around �20m.

The authority was keen to galvanise public support behind faster internet speeds so as to boost the confidence of any business with plans to invest in rural broadband infrastructure.

It is hoped a partner would be in place by September, which could mean the first properties are wired up to super-fast broadband by the end of the year or early 2013.