Better Broadband for Norfolk programme answers county’s need for speed as multimillion pound extension announced


• Representatives from Norfolk County Council, BT and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to mark the £17.9 million extension of the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme.
• Interview and photo opportunities at County Hall in Norwich from 11.30am to 12.30pm on Tuesday, 27 January.
• George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council; Bill Murphy, BT Managing Director for Next Generation Access; Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership; and Karen O’Kane, Director of the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme, all available for interview.

Even more homes and businesses in Norfolk will benefit from access to faster broadband as the successful Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme is set for a multi million pound extension.

It was announced today (Tuesday, 27 January) that a £17.9 million deal has been signed by Norfolk County Council and BT for a further major increase in the extensive network of fibre cables and roadside cabinets installed since the original project got underway two years ago. 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.

This deal sees £6 million of central Government funding matched by £5 million from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and £1 million from the County Council. BT will be contributing £5.9 million over the term of the contract.
This will enable many households and businesses in pockets of Norfolk that still have slow internet speeds to buy faster fibre broadband from service providers.

Data also released today shows where in the county the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme is making the biggest difference and the expected impact of the latest investment.

All seven of the county’s districts have benefited from the original programme, which is due to complete at the end of this year, but it is in the more rural areas that the greatest transformation has taken place. This is set to continue with the extended programme, which will further greatly reduce the disparity in speeds between Norfolk’s urban and rural areas. (For a breakdown of the impact BBfN is having and will have by district, see the table below in notes to editors).

And even further investment is planned. In addition to the latest £17.9 million deal, another £6.4 million has been committed to help Norfolk 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. Half of the £6.4 million has been pledged by five of Norfolk’s district councils – Breckland, Broadland, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk and South Norfolk – and the remainder from central government.

Representatives from the BBfN programme will hold discussions with the district councils over the coming months to work out how this extra funding will be spent to improve broadband connectivity in each area. Further details are likely to be announced in the summer.

George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “The difference the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme is making, particularly to those living and working in our villages and market towns, is remarkable. The broadband inequality that has previously existed in Norfolk is being whittled away and, with this extension, will be nearly eradicated. The whole county stands to benefit from the knock-on effect, with at-home learning and working and rural entrepreneurship among the opportunities that will be unlocked.”

Bill Murphy, BT Managing Director, for Next Generation Access, said: “We are pleased to have been selected as the preferred partner for this project. This will build upon the success of both our own commercial roll-out in the county as well as our existing partnership with Norfolk County Council. In total we’ve already provided more than 290,000 Norfolk homes and businesses with access to high-speed fibre broadband and we look forward to extending this even further to bring the benefits of fibre broadband to even more parts of the county.”

Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Speak to any business owner, from the budding entrepreneur to the established rural company, better connectivity is key to their future success. Faster broadband means companies can really compete on a global stage - boosting productivity, enhancing customer service and speeding up the supply chain. This is great news and we are proud to have been able to contribute the funding towards it.”

The current BBfN programme is set to continue until December 2015, with the number of Norfolk properties able to access faster internet services as a result currently standing at 119,000. Of all the broadband projects awarded under the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK contract framework in England, it has achieved the most progress, making fibre broadband available to more homes and businesses than in any other area to date.

The high-speed network installed by BT’s local network business, Openreach, as a result of the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme 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.

Each roadside fibre broadband cabinet serves homes and businesses in a very localised area such as part of a village or town. As faster services become available, people will be able to check whether their home or business can receive them via the Better Broadband for Norfolk website.


Notes to editors

The table below gives a breakdown by district, and also a total for Norfolk, for the number of premises connected to the fibre broadband network as a result of commercial coverage (i.e. no public funding used) and as a result of the current BBfN contract and the second £12m contract.

Total No. of premisesin district or countyCommercial coverageBBfN original contract coverage at completionCombined commercial and BBfN original contract coverageBBfN second contract coverageCombined commercial and total BBfN coverageBreckland61,09530%49%79%9%87%Broadland57,78056%30%86%6%92%Great Yarmouth47,41766%27%93%1%95%King’s Lynn and West Norfolk73,99329%54%83%6%89%North Norfolk56,11211%64%74%10%85%Norwich69,34393%5%98%1%99%South Norfolk58,86015%61%75%10%86%Norfolk total424,60043%41%84%6%90%
Nb. Rounding may vary total coverage by plus/minus one per cent within any district.

The original £41 million BBfN contract included £15 million from Norfolk County Council, which was match funded by central government and an £11 million contribution from BT.

About BDUK

Superfast Britain is a UK Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services

For further information please contact Norfolk County Council 01603 228888 or the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be found at www.btplc.com/news

For political comment

Cllr George Nobbs, Leader of the Labour Group and Leader of the Council, on 01603 222936
Cllr Tom FitzPatrick, Leader of the Conservative Group, on 07803 166293
Cllr Toby Coke, Leader of the UKIP Group, on 07717 881289
Cllr Marie Strong, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, on 07920 286597
Cllr Richard Bearman, Leader of the Green Party Group, on 01603 504124