Halfway there for better broadband for Suffolk programme

Faster broadband giving Suffolk businesses the competitive edge

More than 50,000 homes and businesses can now connect to faster fibre broadband, as the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme reaches its halfway point more than six weeks ahead of schedule.
Since the first green roadside cabinets were installed and switched on in August last year, residents and business owners in more than 4700 postcodes can now order the new broadband technology.

This includes approximately 2,800 businesses properties around the county, the owners of which can now make use of faster broadband to grow their businesses.

Suffolk County Council has placed broadband at the heart of its economic growth strategy, which was launched in spring 2013. Businesses will be able to work faster and more efficiently. Having fibre broadband means users are able to run multiple, bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data faster. Computer systems will be easier to back up and high quality video conferencing will become more commonplace.

Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, said: “Superfast broadband has the power to transform the way businesses operate, making them stronger and, therefore, more commercially viable.

“This will give Suffolk’s economy a significant boost, helping us to attract new businesses to the county and create new jobs.

“We estimate that faster broadband will create as many as 1500 new jobs in Suffolk, a number we hope to exceed.

“We have been working hard to get us to this milestone and I continue to be tremendously proud of what we have achieved.”

Suffolk is home to a number of major businesses, including a large number of shipping, haulage and distribution firms. It’s also home to a number of food processing companies and breweries. Suffolk has a thriving tourism industry worth £1.75bn (8% of Suffolk’s economy), employing 34,000 people in 2,000 businesses, with 25 million tourist trips to Suffolk per year.

Over the past 5 years, business stock in Suffolk has increased by an average of 400 businesses per year.

Better Broadband for Suffolk is part of a multi-million pound partnership between Suffolk County Council, Suffolk’s seven district and borough councils, BT and the Government to extend the availability of high-speed fibre broadband throughout the county, especially in rural areas.

Every three months, between now and the end of 2015, approximately 10,000 more properties will be given access to better broadband.

The partnership is building on BT’s existing commercial plans, which have already made fibre broadband available to around 200,000 Suffolk premises.

Suffolk County Council has committed to ensuring that by the end the programme, every property in Suffolk has access to broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) while 85 per cent of homes and businesses will be able to benefit from superfast speeds (24Mbps or more).

Dave Hughes, BT’s Regional Director for the East of England said, “The Better Broadband for Suffolk programme is making strong progress, bringing high-speed fibre broadband to some of the most challenging areas in the county. The programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together.

“BT has brought technical expertise to the table as well as millions of pounds of investment. This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses in Suffolk, whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and leisure.”

The new technology provides download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, with the potential for even faster speeds in the future.

Residents can also enjoy a boost in speeds for online learning and home entertainment. They will able to simultaneously download movies, transfer files, watch TV replays, surf the internet and play online games.

The roadside fibre broadband cabinets that are being connected to the new network serve very localised areas so not all parts of the towns and villages where they are located will be able to receive fibre broadband initially. As the service becomes increasingly available, people will be able to use the Better Broadband for Suffolk website (www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com) to check whether their home or business can receive better broadband services.

Digital economy minister, Ed Vaizey MP, said:

“Congratulations Suffolk! I’m delighted to hear that more than 50,000 homes and businesses in the area can now access superfast broadband speeds as a result of our rollout, and that the project is not only now past the half way mark, but is ahead of schedule. This is a tremendous result and a remarkable transformation of Suffolk’s digital landscape”.