The first steps are being taken to make better broadband available to up to 95 per cent of Suffolk - significantly extending the commitments made under the current Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.
Suffolk County Council has recently secured additional public funding to extend better broadband coverage to more of Suffolk - and is now inviting potential suppliers to discuss how they could deliver the additional work.
It means the current target of giving 85 per cent of premises access to superfast broadband (24Mbps or more) by 2015, and every property at least 2Mbps, will be extended so that up to 95 per cent of the county will be able to connect to superfast fibre broadband by 2017.
Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, said: “We’re only five months into the delivery of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme and we’re already looking at how we can take it to the next level.
“Our current commitment to making superfast speeds available to 85 per cent of Suffolk homes and businesses is only the beginning. We want to push forward so that even more people are able to benefit.
“I’m looking forward to this additional work getting underway and the day that slow, or non-existent, internet speeds are a thing of the past in Suffolk.”
A ‘mini-competition’ - separate to the current Better Broadband for Suffolk contract with BT - will now take place to identify a suitable supplier.
As part of the new tendering process, Suffolk County Council will conduct a review of the open market to establish what broadband coverage commercial providers are planning to deliver.
Following consultation, this information will be used to define the areas where the additional public funding can be invested.
Officials aim to complete the tendering process by the summer of 2014, and for works to start by the end of 2014 - in parallel with the on-going Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.
The Better Broadband for Suffolk programme is making good progress having already given over 11,000 homes and businesses access to superfast broadband in more than 800 postcodes throughout Suffolk.
The programme is on track to reach its target of almost 100,000 premises by the end of 2015.