31
October
2014
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00:00
Europe/Amsterdam

Suffolk first in the country to extend Better Broadband BDUK programme

Following last week’s Suffolk County Council cabinet decision, plans to extend the rollout programme to help give households and business premises in Suffolk access to faster broadband speeds have been signed and sealed today.

Suffolk County Council and BT signed a contract, under the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework programme, to continue working together to revolutionise broadband through the provision of a fibre network by BT.

The project will use public and private funds to deliver a fibre network to parts of the county not covered by previous plans. The contract signing took place at the county council’s Endeavour House headquarters in Ipswich and was attended by County Councillors and BT’s Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Access.

Along with other commercial and existing programmes, the contract aims to extend the coverage of fibre broadband to 95% of homes and businesses in Suffolk, and will include premises which were previously outside the scope of the original rollout.

Earlier this year, BDUK announced a further £250m fund, called the Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) fund, of which Suffolk was awarded £15m to deliver further coverage in the county. Thanks to this award Suffolk is the first local authority to extend their BDUK programme under the SEP, leading the way for other local authorities to follow. As a result the benefits of superfast broadband will be brought to Suffolk earlier than other parts of the country.

The £15m capital grant will be locally matched by £5m from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Local Growth Fund and £10m from Suffolk County Council.

Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme board, said: “This extension contract will improve educational attainment and remove a major block to public service transformation in Suffolk. We estimate that public sector organisations will be able to achieve £49 million of efficiency savings within 15 years as a result of better access to broadband and that the local economy will grow by £2 billion with 1,500 jobs created.

“Access to better broadband across the whole of Suffolk is at the heart of our economic growth strategy, as it will support future business investment and growth in Suffolk. Recently we reached the halfway mark, six weeks ahead of schedule, as more than 50,000 homes and businesses can now connect to faster fibre broadband as part of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.

“I am extremely pleased with this milestone but we must continue to lead the way and push on to reach our target of giving fibre broadband access to 100,000 homes and business across Suffolk.”
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.

Bill Murphy, Managing Director, NGA, BT Group, said: “We are pleased to have been selected as the preferred partner for this project. This project will build upon the success of both our own commercial roll-out in the county as well as our existing partnership with Suffolk County Council. In total we’ve already provided more than 250,000 Suffolk 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: “We’re delighted that fibre broadband will be rolled out to reach more than 95% of business premises and households. It is essential that businesses have access to faster broadband speeds, to help companies grow and thrive. That is why New Anglia LEP has invested £5 million to support this programme, which will have a real, positive effect on thousands of companies across Suffolk.”

The roadside fibre broadband cabinets that are being connected to the 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 should use the Better Broadband for Suffolk website (www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com) to check to see if their home or business can receive faster broadband services.

ENDS

Notes to editors
For more information about the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, please contact: Remi Sijuwade, Suffolk County Council press office, Tel: 01473 264291, Email: remi.sijuwade@suffolk@gov.uk
For information about BT, please contact the BT regional press office on its 24-hour number: 0800 085 0660.

Better Broadband for Suffolk programme
The Better Broadband for Suffolk programme is a partnership between Suffolk County Council and BT and the government to create for Suffolk a broadband network fit for the twenty first century.
This new contract will also build on BT and other providers’ existing commercial investment in the county to provide fibre broadband to around 95% of homes and businesses.
The second contract brings the total public sector investment to over £50 million for Suffolk's broadband network over a five year period.
BT’s network is open to all internet service providers on an equal, wholesale basis, ensuring Suffolk’s homes and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market, in turn bringing greater choice and affordable prices.