Suffolk at 94% superfast broadband coverage as project continues

Council leader Matthew Hicks said he was delighted with progress to get 98% broadband in Suffolk. Pi

Council leader Matthew Hicks said he was delighted with progress to get 98% broadband in Suffolk. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Targets to deliver 98% superfast broadband in Suffolk by 2020 are nearly six months ahead of schedule, a new cabinet report has said.

Openreach has been tasked with the rollout after starting the project in 2010, which has been bankrolled by £64million in public funding.

Efforts were ramped up last year when it fell behind its targets, prompting a recovery plan to be put in place.

But in his latest cabinet member report, council leader Matthew Hicks said that it has delivered revised targets for December this year nearly six months early.

As of last month, the county was at 94.3% coverage.

"Take-up figures of 58.8% across both contracts means that a total of 84,385 homes and businesses have taken a fibre service in Suffolk (Mar 2019)," Mr Hicks said in his report.

"Whilst these numbers are very positive, we continue to try to improve take-up across the county.

"Our communications team have recently targeted specific low take-up areas with a leaflet campaign promoting the advantages of superfast speeds and our newly relaunched quarterly newsletter is available on our website."

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The third phase of the plan, which aims to address the final 2% not getting superfast speeds, is now in the contract procurement stage with an eye to having contracts sewn up by December.

That phase will prioritise those homes where speeds are under 15 megabits per second, and utilise £1.7m in cash recently secured from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to improve connection for around 7,000 homes.

Elsewhere, Mr Hicks' report said the Suffolk Cloud project to deliver a wide area network - one that spans over greater distances - for 311 public sector sites is making good progress.

The £12m scheme will deliver high speed fibre networks to public buildings in 10 Suffolk towns that will form a 'spine' network.

Mildenhall sites are set to get full fibre by September, while meetings are ongoing for the other nine - Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Haverhill, Sudbury, Stowmarket, Felixstowe, Newmarket and Woodbridge.

The project was announced in December, and will be delivered by telecommunications firm DLL and infrastructure firm CityFibre.