Access to high-speed broadband doubles in Norfolk as first Better Broadband contract completes ahead of schedule and under budget
Norfolk County Council’s partnership with BT has given 185,885 mainly rural homes and businesses access to fibre-enabled broadband, ahead of schedule and under budget.
Originally due to finish this December, it was announced today (Friday, 30 October) that the first Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme contract completed three months early, reached more properties than anticipated and made significant savings.
More than 80 per cent of households and businesses in the county can now buy a superfast broadband service (24 Megabits per second and above), nearly double the number who could receive these speeds three years ago before the BBfN programme got underway.
The money saved as part of the first contract will now be reinvested in the next phase of the BBfN programme, which is due to bring faster broadband speeds to even more remote parts of the county. Planning work is already underway and the first services are due to be available from December 2015.
The first areas set to benefit from the second BBfN contract are parts of Burgh St Peter, Barnham Broom, Barford, Bawdeswell, North Creake, Dereham, Ashwellthorpe, Bradwell, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Shropham, Hanworth, Starston, Harleston, Hickling, Sea Paling, Thuxton, Cawston, Bradenham, Southrepps, Gunthorpe, Ridlington, East Ruston, Weasenham St Peter, Little Fransham, Topcroft, Woodton and Wymondham.
Faster broadband services for these areas are set to become available by the end of March 2016.The new roadside fibre broadband cabinets serve very localised areas, usually parts of towns and villages rather than whole communities.
George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “Improving the broadband reach across the county is absolutely vital to our twin ambitions of improving infrastructure and creating real jobs. It makes Norfolk more attractive to relocating businesses and supports Norfolk’s growing hi-tech business sector. It also helps flexible and home working to reduce business costs, and supports our population gaining skills, accessing services they need and staying connected to the wider world.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director next generation access, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement that we’ve delivered this contract early and under budget, but most importantly, we’ve made superfast broadband available to more homes and businesses than we originally planned. This demonstrates the strength of the partnership between BT and Norfolk County Council, as well as the determination of the people working on the programme, and we’ll continue working well together to deliver the next stages of the rollout to reach even more properties. When BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme is also included, it means that 357,000 Norfolk homes and businesses now have access to this exciting technology.”
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Our rollout of superfast broadband across Norfolk has been a tremendous success so far, reaching more homes and businesses than originally forecast and finishing the first stage three months earlier than planned. The next stage will see even more properties get access to superfast broadband and I congratulate Better Broadband for Norfolk on their excellent progress to date."
The original BBfN contract was signed in December 2012 after the council pledged a total of £15 million to the scheme. This was matched by the Government and BT made an £11 million contribution in Norfolk towards the cost of installing the fibre infrastructure in addition to covering the ongoing costs of supporting and maintaining the network
In Norfolk a £17.9 million deal to extend the original BBfN programme was signed by Norfolk County Council and BT earlier this year, funded by the Government, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk County Council and BT. Once installation work on both the first and second contracts is completed, it is expected that coverage of fibre broadband will reach 90 per cent of Norfolk premises.
And even more investment is planned. An extra £7m has been committed by five of Norfolk’s district councils – Breckland, Broadland, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk and South Norfolk – and central government.to help Norfolk further contribute to the Government’s national target of making high-speed broadband available to 95 per cent of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2017 and around £5.3m has been made available by BT as a result of Norfolk’s success in delivering higher than expected fibre broadband take-up from local households and businesses.
– a contractual rebate gained as a result of Norfolk’s success in delivering higher than expected fibre broadband take-up from local households and businesses.
The high-speed network installed by BT’s local network business, Openreach, is available on an open, wholesale basis to all communication providers, therefore offering Norfolk households and businesses the benefit of real choice from a highly competitive market.
People can check whether their home or business can receive superfast broadband by visiting the Better Broadband for Norfolk website which is updated as new broadband services become available.