County’s pledge on broadband coverage

NEARLY half a million pounds is set to be made available by Suffolk County Council to boost broadband coverage in rural parts of the county.

The authority’s cabinet is next week set to back the Suffolk Better Broadband Programme with a financial committment over the next four years.

It will offer �235,000 from its capital budget for the programme – and �51,000 a year in revenue for the next four years.

The total cost of the programme is �41.7 million. The government has been asked for �20 million which will be matched by �20 million from the private sector.

The remaining costs would be met by local authorities and European funding.

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County council leader-elect Mark Bee said it was vital that the “pump-priming” funds should boost broadband across Suffolk.

He said: “The broadband speeds are far too slow in much of the county.

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“Some places are lucky to get 1Mbp (Megabits per second) speeds and there are still some areas which have to rely on dial-up connections.

“The is good coverage in Ipswich where there are fibre-optic connections but in other parts of the county things are not so good.”

He said the county’s case was being heard by ministers – and he was optimistic the group of MPs who had been pressing the case in Whitehall had been successful.

Mr Bee said: “I have been speaking to (Waveney MP) Peter Aldous about what they are doing in Westminster, and it really does seem as if the government is looking at Suffolk.

“But we need to show that we are prepared to be a part of this improvement – and that is why this support we are pledging is so important.”

The report that will be presented to the cabinet says that Suffolk has one of the poorest broadband coverages in England.

The aim of the plan is to ensure that superfast broadband with typical speeds of 100 Mbps is available to everyone in the county by 2020.

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