Suffolk: Better broadband so vital say small businesses

CARL Bennett, of the Yoxford Food Company, has been fighting a constant battle with fluctuating connection speeds, particularly at home in Tunstall.

Mr Bennett, whose business is based at Yoxford Post Office, which unexpectedly dropped offline last July, forcing its closure for more than a week, believes the problem lies with a handful of providers monopolising the market.

He said: “All this talk of superfast broadband is missing the point. There are lots of companies offering potential speeds but they are completely misleading. We shouldn’t have to prove there is a need for a service before it is supplied.

“The connection at home is appalling. It gets slower when it rains. Depending on it for work would be impossible.”

Last September, Halesworth’s Mount Pleasant topped the list of Britain’s 50 slowest streets for broadband, with an average of 0.128 megabits per second – equivalent to a 48-hour wait to finish downloading a film, or 90 minutes to transfer a two-and-a-half-minute song. Meanwhile, in Britain’s fastest town of Leamington Spa, residents could enjoy speeds of up to 19Mbps, and download a film in just five minutes.

One Suffolk community took matters into their own hands earlier this year by launching a successful campaign for faster download speeds.

Web users living in the tiny hamlet of Shingle Street, near Woodbridge, had suffered terribly sluggish connections until the Wilford Bridge Broadband Project helped create a broadband hotspot by shunning cables in favour of bouncing a radio signal from the nearby church tower in Hollesley and into the homes of subscribers.

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With speeds of 25Mbps, residents can now watch television on their laptops, shop and work from home.

The project received funding from the former East of England Development Agency, DEFRA and the European Union.

The Alde and Ore Futures Project and Bawdsey and Boyton parish councils also contributed to start-up costs.

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