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Fresh £11m investment to roll out high-speed broadband to 95pc of Norfolk homes and businesses

PUBLISHED: 16:39 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:39 14 February 2017

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines. Photo credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines. Photo credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Thousands more homes and businesses across Norfolk are to be given access to high-speed fibre broadband with the announcement of a further £11m investment in the network.

Cliff Jordan, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Submitted Cliff Jordan, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Submitted

The new funding means 95pc of all premises in the county will have superfast broadband available by spring 2020.

Five of Norfolk’s district councils – Breckland, Broadland, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk and South Norfolk – have committed over £3m which has been match funded by central government to improve broadband coverage and speeds in these five districts.

Currently 87pc of households and businesses in Norfolk can get a superfast broadband service of 24 Megabits per second and above, more than double the number who could get these speeds four years ago before the Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme got underway.

Cliff Jordan, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said they “won’t be satisfied” until everyone in Norfolk can access a good broadband service.

Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Growth and Commercialisation at Breckland Council, said: “Superfast broadband is key to unlocking the potential of Breckland as a place where people and businesses can thrive, and thanks to this ongoing programme to improve connectivity around 80pc of homes and businesses in our district can now access broadband which is at least 24mb/s – a vast increase from just 30pc in 2013.”

Broadland District Council’s portfolio holder for economic success Stuart Clancy, said: “The programme won’t be an instant fix. Fibre optic technology will be installed to cabinets across Broadland over the next three years and it will then be up to broadband providers to make faster speeds available to customers. We will be working hard to encourage them to do so.”

Alistair Beales, Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk cabinet member for regeneration and industrial assets, said: “Having access to high speed broadband is essential for local businesses who are trying to compete in national and international markets. Not only that but it makes west Norfolk a more attractive place for people and businesses to relocate to as the communications infrastructure will be on a par with other parts of the country.”

Cllr Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council said: “Fast broadband is essential to our economy and that’s why we are investing heavily in this project. It’s an issue which is causing a lot of concern to residents and businesses and access to fast online services is a necessity – not an add-on.”

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller said: “We have backed BBfN’s work with BT with hard cash but also recognise that about 5,000 of the most isolated properties in South Norfolk will need more creative approaches and are working up bespoke opportunities for these most rural settlements.”

Tim Whitley, BT’s regional director for the East of England, said: “The new funding from the district councils, when added to the gainshare success dividend of £5.2m based on good take-up of the service already deployed, will enable the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme to reach even more homes and businesses with high-speed broadband. BT’s network now reaches more than 370,000 homes and businesses across the county when you combine it with our commercial rollout. We’re aware there’s more to do, and the roll-out continues into 2020.”

To coincide with the programme extension, the BBfN website, www.betterbroadbandnorfolk.co.uk, has been improved to make it easier for people to find out if an address in Norfolk is likely to be able to access high-speed broadband if it can’t already.

Alternative and subsidised broadband solutions may be available to those Norfolk premises that are unable to receive broadband speeds in excess of 2Mbps and who will not be benefitting from the BBfN programme.

For more information visit betterbroadbandnorfolk.co.uk

Suffolk County Council’s Better Broadband scheme completed its first contract with BT last winter which took the 50pc existing fibre coverage and extended it up to around 85pc coverage of all premises in the county.

They have now begun the second scheme to reach over 96pc of premises coverage by 2019.

Has your business suffered from poor broadband speeds? Email dominic.gilbert@archant.co.uk

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