'Great news' as government releases cash to connect Suffolk's remote rural businesses to superfast broadband
PUBLISHED: 10:06 01 March 2019
Businesses set in Suffolk's most rural backwaters are set to get superfast broadband access thanks a £1.725m government windfall.
Suffolk County Council, working in partnership with West Suffolk Council, East Suffolk Council of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney, and Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils, has secured the funding from the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for some of the hard-to-reach 2% of the county, with connection work due to start later in 2019.
The money will contribute to providing access to more than 550 businesses across the county’s most rural and low-speed broadband areas, which are not in plans to receive superfast broadband as part of the current fibre broadband rollout.
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It will also benefit 600 non-business-related premises which will be able to upgrade to superfast speeds.
Suffolk’s Better Broadband for Suffolk Program, launched in 2010, has so far enabled superfast broadband coverage for 93% of the county, with the current contract due to reach 98% by 2020.
The additional funding will contribute towards meeting some of the remaining 2% of the county not covered by existing contracts.
County Council leader Councillor Matthew Hicks said: “This is great news for Suffolk and really underlines the success we have when local councils work together. With 98% of Suffolk already funded to receive superfast broadband, we are doing all we can to reach the remaining businesses and residents, so I congratulate the teams on securing this funding.”
District councils also welcomed the cash injection.
Cllr James Waters, leader at Forest Heath District Council said they were delighted. “For businesses it is about being able to compete on a level playing field,” he said.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader at St Edmundsbury, said it was “excellent news” and would make west Suffolk “an even more attractive place for those looking to set up new businesses here”.
In a joint statement, leaders of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils, Cllrs Ray Herring and Mark Bee, said it was “great news for the businesses and people of east Suffolk”.