Suffolk: Super-fast broadband would mean �2bn boost to economy
SUFFOLK’S economy could get an estimated �2billion boost if superfast broadband is rolled out across the county.
That is the view of chiefs at Suffolk County Council (SCC) whose Better Broadband campaign is seeking to establish high-speed connections across the county.
They also believe it could create up to 5,000 jobs and help the retention and growth of around 500 small businesses.
Revelations about the project’s value came as British Telecom bosses threw their weight behind the EADT-backed campaign. They encouraged householders to register their support with SCC to extend broadband coverage across the county and give businesses like them the confidence to invest.
Suffolk was given more than �10million by the Government in September to help improve broadband infrastructure. SCC will match this sum before going out to tender in May for a private sector partner, who will be expected to invest around �20m.
And Annette Thorpe, BT’s regional partnership director, said the communications giant would be in the running to net the deal.
She said. “We’d love to win the contract but the primary thing for us is that the community gets on board and signs up to this campaign.
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“The survey is a requirement for the council but more importantly when the companies are made aware of the demand it makes the case for investment more compelling.
“I think the speed of going to the market is going to be critical and the team at the county council are very astute and aware of that.”
Broadband speeds in parts of Suffolk can be as low as 0.5 megabits per second, leaving businesses and families frustrated. The county council hope to galvanise these constituents and get at least 10,000 householders to register an interest in high-speed connection speeds. So far nearly 4,000 householders and businesses have signed up.
Mark Bee, leader of SCC, said: “The economic benefits of bringing superfast broadband to Suffolk shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether it’s by making Suffolk a viable and thriving place to run a business or creating new jobs for skilled local people, broadband has the potential to make a real impact on the future prosperity of our county.
“That’s why it’s so important that as many local businesses and households as possible sign up and support the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign. This is a time for pulling together to achieve something that will benefit us all.”
BT is already in the process of upgrading exchanges across Suffolk, where it makes commercial sense for them to do so. Exchanges have already been upgraded at Bury St Edmunds and Kesgrave while those at Belstead, Bungay, Felixstowe, Hadleigh, Haverhill, Ipswich, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Stowmarket, Sudbury, Woodbridge and Whitton will be improved over the next two months.
You can register your household’s interest in broadband by visiting: www.suffolk.gov.uk/broadband