More than 36,000 homes and businesses can now connect to faster broadband - as the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme approaches its first full year of action.
In just 11 months since the first green roadside cabinets were installed and switched on, residents and business owners in more than 2,600 postcodes – approximately a third of those set to benefit from the programme - can now order the new fibre broadband technology.
This includes 1,500 properties in and around the constituency of West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock – who joined local councillors in Risby last Friday (July 11) to celebrate the news.
The new cabinet in the village serves over 333 homes and businesses.
Mr Hancock said: “I am pleased with the progress that has been made by the Better Broadband programme, which includes 1,500 properties in West Suffolk.
“Good, reliable internet connections are fundamental to the growth and development of rural communities.
“This is why I have been fighting tirelessly to have as much of West Suffolk included in the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme as possible.
“Although good progress has now been made, there is still a lot more to do to ensure West Suffolk gets the high quality infrastructure it deserves. I will continue to fight to make fast speed internet access across my constituency a reality.”
It’s all 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.
This is just the first stage of this major programme. Suffolk County Council has committed to ensuring that by the end of 2015, 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).
Every three months, between now and the end of 2015, approximately 10,000 more properties will be given access to better broadband.
Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, said: “In a little under a year, we’ve given over 36,000 homes and businesses access to faster broadband services which show how fast the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme is progressing.
“We’re making significant inroads into more rural parts of the county. This is precisely what we set out to do when we launched Better Broadband.
“Faster broadband will boost Suffolk’s economy, help us to attract new businesses to the county and create new jobs.
“It will also make it far easier for residents to access the internet and the benefits it can offer.
“I’m tremendously proud of what we have achieved and look forward to seeing this first round of rollout completed by the end of next year.”
The partnership is building on BT’s existing commercial plans, which have already made fibre broadband available to around 200,000 Suffolk premises.
Dave Hughes, BT’s East of England regional director, said: “We have been working hard to get to this milestone. “This is an exciting time for Better Broadband for Suffolk and part of the journey that will see the communications landscape completely transformed.
“This project will boost the local economy and help to create and protect local jobs. It will be of enormous benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”
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.
Businesses in these areas 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.
Suffolk County Council estimates that over the next 15 years, the project will provide a £2 billion boost to the local economy and will create 1,500 jobs.
Residents can also enjoy a boost in speeds for home entertainment. They will able to simultaneously download movies, transfer files, watch TV replays, surf the internet and play online games.
Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, said: “This fantastic news marks the end of a very successful first year of the superfast broadband rollout in Suffolk.
“We are witnessing a transformation of broadband across the UK and I’m delighted that more than 36,000 homes and businesses, who would otherwise have been left behind in the digital slow lane, are already benefiting from access to superfast speeds as a result of our investment.”
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.