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Suffolk: More communities set to be offered broadband boost

17:33 20 January 2014

Andrew Stringer

Andrew Stringer

Communities which lost out on hopes of getting better broadband have been given fresh hope after Suffolk County Council received extra funding to increase its reach.

However the decision does mean that taxpayers will be funding the provision of some broadband that had been due to set up as a commercial organisation.

Several communities across Suffolk had been included in BT’s original commercial broadband plans – and were therefore excluded from the Better Broadband for Suffolkbid by the county council.

However BT then dropped the communities from their plans – effectively meaning they were excluded from the programme.

Now new money has been allocated by the government, these communities should be in line to have broadband extended to them.

Green county councillor Andrew Stringer has several of these communities in his division, including Haughley Green and Old Newton, and has been leading calls for an extension to the broadband programme.

He said: “This does look like good news for villages who had missed out on the original scheme – but it means the work will come out of taxes rather than be a commercial scheme.”

The county said the new funding means the current target of giving 85% of premises access to superfast broadband (24Mbps or more) by 2015 will be extended so that up to 95% of the county will be able to connect to superfast fibre broadband by 2017.

County council leader Mark Bee 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.

“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.”

As part of the new tendering process, the council will conduct a review of the open market to establish what broadband coverage commercial providers are planning to deliver.

Officials aim to complete the tendering process by this summer and for works to start by the end of the year.

The Better Broadband for Suffolk programme has so far given more than 11,000 properties access to superfast broadband. The programme is on track to reach its target of almost 100,000 premises by the end of 2015.

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