Better broadband to reach more people

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Steps are being taken to make better broadband available for up to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Suffolk by 2017.

Suffolk County Council has secured extra public funding to extend better broadband coverage across the county.

It means the current target, of giving 85 per cent of premises access to superfast fibre broadband by 2015, and every property at least 2mbps, will be extended to give 95 per cent of the county superfast fibre broadband by 2017.

The programme has already given more than 11,000 homes and businesses access to superfast broadband, in more than 800 postcodes across Suffolk, and is on track to reach its target of 100,000 premises by the end of 2015 .

Councillor Mark Bee, county council leader and chairman 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.”

He added: “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.”

The council is inviting potential suppliers to discuss how they could deliver the additional work.

And a “mini competition” - separate to the current Better Broadband for Suffolk contract with BT - will take place to identify a suitable supplier.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said the council would, as part of the tendering process, conduct a review of the open market to establish what broadband commercial providers are planning to deliver.

Following the 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 this summer and for work to start by the end of this year to run parallel to the on-going Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.