Broadband not yet up to speed

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Broadband speeds in Forest Heath, including in Newmarket and Mildenhall, are lagging behind others in Suffolk and the UK as a whole, according to newly released figures.

They show that the availability of the new superfast broadband speeds following major public and private investment in the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign is behind other districts in the county.

Although the project is ongoing, currently 73.7 per cent of Forest Heath households can get access to superfast speeds, behind Suffolk as a whole at 80.7 percent, and behind the UK coverage of 86.3 per cent.

Download speeds - a key measure of broadband speeds, are also averaging below the superfast standard of 24 megabits per second (Mbps).

The figures were compiled by broadband news website, and show that the average download speed in Forest Heath was just 10.9 Mbps.

Graham Abbey. chairman of Newmarket and District Chamber of Commerce, said he recognised the efforts being made to increase speeds in a relatively rural area.

He said: “It is definitely better over the last 18 months to two years and is continuing to improve, but are those improvements coming fast enough? Some people would say certainly not.

“We are rural, yet we hear of countries like Portugal having faster broadband.

“There are without a doubt a number of small businesses impacted by low speed. You will struggle to attract businesses into the town without good broadband speeds. It is part of a company’s infrastructure” He said speeds in some rural areas were “shocking.”

A statement from Suffolk County Council, a key partner in the broadband rollout, said: “We are on track to complete coverage under our first contract with BT to more than 100,000 premises by the end of this month. We have already started work on our second contract with BT to further extend superfast broadband coverage to over 95 per cent of Suffolk premises by 2018.

“Parts of Forest Heath have already benefited under our first work and further areas in Forest Heath will benefit under our second contract.”