Suffolk Coastal: District council’s scrutiny committee investigates broadband speeds
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Broadband speeds will go under the microscope as part of an investigation into internet access in rural areas.
Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Scrutiny Committee has expressed concern regarding the inadequacy of service in some locations. Although members acknowledge that progress has been made they have raised concerns - in particular the impact on jobs, businesses and students.
According to Ofcom Suffolk Coastal has an average broadband speed of six mega bites per second (Mbps). The rural average is 6.5Mbps - putting the district 269th out of 325 English authorities in terms of fastest connection speeds. Suffolk Coastal also has more than 13% of premises receiving less than 2Mbps.
The Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign aims to achieve 100% at 2Mbps by the summer of 2015, with 90% having a fibre based connection and 85% superfast speeds in excess of 24Mbps.
The council’s scrutiny committee is now exploring the options available to increase speeds and looking at how efficiently and quickly improved provision can be extended to the whole district - with particular emphasis on rural areas.
At a meeting on Thursday it will hear evidence from experts including representatives from Better Broadband for Suffolk, BT and Buz Broadband Ltd, which delivers wireless connections. An independent technical advisor will also be on hand.
Chairman Phillip Dunnett said the average speed of 6Mbps masked large differences across the district - with some communities receiving just half a mega bite. “It was felt that there was a lot of hype about higher broadband speeds,” he said. “Because of the way it was being sold to everybody people were beginning to think that they were getting super speeds. But when it came down to it some rural areas weren’t even achieving 2Mbps. By today’s standards that isn’t high speed. Remote areas were getting left behind.
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“It was felt it was something we should look out and we will now gather the evidence before putting forward our recommendations. The ultimate aim is to improve broadband speeds, with the emphasis on rural communities in particular.”
After Thursday the committee will consider the evidence, drawing up conclusions ahead of meetings in October and November.