The leader of Suffolk County Council and three of Suffolk’s MPs met communications minister Ed Vaisey yesterday (Monday, Dec 2) to push for the Government’s support to extend the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.
Even though the programme is just four months into its two and a half year implementation period, which will eventually see 100,000 homes and businesses given access to faster broadband, the next steps are already being considered.
It includes raising the current target of 85% of properties having access to superfast broadband speeds (24 megabits per second (Mbps) or more) by the end of 2015 to as much as, or more than, 90% - in line with government aims. This is on top of the commitment Suffolk County Council has made that every property in the county will have access to speeds of at least 2Mbps.
The meeting in Westminster was positive and an announcement on the precise details of any potential extension is expected in the coming months.
Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, said:
“The Better Broadband programme is already achieving great results but that is no reason for us to stop striving for even greater outcomes for Suffolk.
We had a very positive meeting with Ed Vaisey and I’m excited about the potential to extend the programme even further.
“Suffolk’s pledge of a universal minimum of 2Mbps is right for our county because there are so many rural areas what would otherwise have ended up with nothing. This is about extending our superfast commitment so that Suffolk really is at the forefront of broadband access.”
Better Broadband for Suffolk is a multi million pound partnership between Suffolk County Council, BT and the Government to make high-speed fibre broadband more widely available throughout the county, especially in rural areas.
The partnership is building on BT’s existing commercial plans, which already aims to make fibre broadband available to around 200,000 Suffolk premises.
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.
Downloading a whole music album could take them less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds.