Ipswich: �20million bid to bring superfast broadband to Suffolk

A �20 MILLION bid to bring superfast broadband to all corners of Suffolk is today one step closer to becoming a reality.

The I’m Backing Better Broadband for Suffolk (BB4S) campaign, which has the backing of more than 120,000 people, handed over its official bid to BDUK, the Government body responsible for broadband roll out, yesterday.

The aim is to ensure all homes and small businesses in Suffolk have a competitive provision of superfast broadband, of 20Mbps or more, with a target speed of 100Mbps for 50% by 2020.

Individuals, small business leaders, all Suffolk’s local authorities and MPs have signed up to back the campaign.

“A great deal of hard work has gone into what we consider to be a powerful bid,” said Andy Wood, the CEO of Adnams and chair of BB4S. “Over 120,000 people have signed up to our campaign and this alone is recognition of the strength of support there is to bring superfast broadband to our county.”

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“No one is taking anything for granted.” he added. “There will be many strong bids from across the UK with every county having a deserving case. We will expect a visit from BDUK to Suffolk at the end of April and beginning of May where we have to make a strong impression.”

He praised leaders of local authorities for their part in showing a united front to boost the quality of the bid.]

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Mr Wood added: “Our bid needed to show that we are together with one voice across Suffolk. It did that and I pay tribute to the vision of the Leaders and CEOs of our District Councils and Jeremy Pembroke and Andrea Hill from the County Council who have worked hard to make this happen.”

If successful Suffolk will receive the �20m over the next three years, to be rolled out in stages as the project progresses.

The BB4S will know if they have been successful when the Government announces the results on May 27.

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, who hosted a conference on the issue last week, said: “As was revealed at my conference last week Suffolk and in particular Waveney has some extremely challenging areas for commercial broadband providers to reach without public sector funding interventions to tip the business case for investment.

“The Suffolk bid for funding has the support of the Suffolk MPs , it’s local authorities and with high demand from the local communities themselves it should have a very good chance of being successful.”

Chris Soule, the chairman of Suffolk’s Federation of Small Businesses said faster broadband speeds are vital for small businesses.

“Our membership is composed of over 85% of businesses employing less than five people,” he said. “To these businesses, time is critical and efficiency is vital to ensure their survival – key to that efficiency is good communications and that, in turn implies good broadband.”

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt recently visited Suffolk and talked about the strong case the county has.

But Mr Wood said the campaign is not taking anything for granted and is calling on people who have yet to sign the petition to visit the campaign’s website.

He said: “We still need to do more and I ask that anyone who has yet to back the bid to go to our website and add their names to the thousands there already. “Our clarion call to government needs to be as strong and as powerful as it can be.”

To show your support visit www.choosesuffolk.com/betterbroadbandforsuffolk.

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