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Suffolk: Extra £5 million to extend broadband coverage to Haughley Green and other communities

PUBLISHED: 12:05 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:56 25 February 2014

Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme

Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme

Suffolk has been given nearly £5 million to extend its broadband coverage to more of the county.

That should mean communities like Haughley Green in Mid Suffolk, which had looked as if they could miss out on the technology, should be included in the roll-out by the end of 2017.

The funding comes from the Government’s Superfast Extension Programme – designed to give 95% of the UK access to superfast broadband by 2017. Suffolk has been allocated £4.82 million.

Welcoming the news Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee said: “This additional funding is excellent news and means we can start work on significantly extending the commitments we have made under the current Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.

“In particular, we’re going to be able to make high speed broadband available to more of Suffolk’s hardest to reach rural communities.”

Communities like those in Mid Suffolk looked as if they could miss out because they were originally due to have broadband installed as a commercial programme from BT, but this then became uneconomic – but by that time it was too late to include them in the initial government-backed scheme.

The new money should enable them to be included – as well as some properties that were beyond the reach of the initial programme.

Mr Bee said: “We’re only half a year 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% of Suffolk homes and businesses is only the beginning. We want to push forward so that even more people are able to benefit.”

In January 2014, Suffolk County Council announced that it was inviting potential suppliers to discuss how they could deliver the additional work.

A ‘mini-competition’ – separate to the current Better Broadband for Suffolk contract with BT – is now underway to identify a suitable supplier.

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.

Culture secretary, Maria Miller MP, said: “Superfast Broadband will benefit everyone in Suffolk - whether they need it for work, to do homework or simply to download music or films.

“Thousands of homes and businesses now have access and it is helping people with their everyday tasks. We want to make sure that Britain is one of the best countries in the world for broadband, and the extra £250 million we are investing will help ensure communities around the UK are not left behind in the digital slow lane.”

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