With its long coastline, beautiful countryside and dry climate, Norfolk is a great place to be in the summer months. And this year it has got even better, with high-speed broadband available more widely than ever before.
Cliff Jordan, the opposition Conservative Group Leader at Norfolk County Council said, “In 2011 we were one of the first to sign up for this critical investment. Because of our choice to make the investment, more than 150,000 homes across Norfolk now have access to Superfast Broadband, helping people connect with eachother, with businesses and with local services. This is a good day for Norfolk”.
Bill Murphy, BT Managing Director for Next Generation Access, said: “The Better Broadband for Norfolk programme has made fantastic progress, bringing high-speed fibre broadband to some of the most challenging areas in the county. The programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together.
“This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses in Norfolk, whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and leisure.”
The BBfN programme is a partnership between Norfolk County Council and BT, supported by funding from central Government, designed to bring faster broadband to parts of Norfolk, some of which could not even receive a basic two megabits per second service. Of all the broadband projects awarded under the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK contract framework in England, the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme has achieved the most progress, making high-speed broadband speeds available to more homes and businesses than in any other area to date.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "I'm delighted that our superfast broadband rollout is making such excellent progress and the project has already reached 150,000 additional homes and businesses in Norfolk. The Better Broadband for Norfolk project is transforming the digital landscape of the region, and across the UK we are reaching 5000 more homes every day."
The majority of the 150,000 homes and businesses that have access to the new fibre broadband network are in rural parts of Norfolk, with parts of market towns and villages across the county now able to receive a better internet service, and more roadside fibre cabinets being installed and ‘switched on’ each month.
The original BBfN contract was signed in December 2012 after the council pledged £15 million to the scheme. This was matched by central Government as it became one of the first local authorities in the UK to be successful in bidding for Broadband Delivery UK funding under the framework contract. In addition to covering the ongoing costs of supporting and maintaining the network, BT made a £11 million contribution towards the cost of installing the fibre infrastructure.
A £17.9 million deal to extend the BBfN programme was signed by Norfolk County Council and BT earlier this year, funded by central Government, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk County Council and BT. Once installation work on both the first and second contracts is completed, it is expected that coverage of fibre broadband will reach 90 per cent of Norfolk premises.
And even more investment is planned. In addition to the latest £17.9 million deal, another £7 million has been committed to, to help Norfolk contribute to the Government’s national target of making high-speed broadband available to 95 per cent of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2017. Half of the £7 million has been pledged by five of Norfolk’s district councils – Breckland, Broadland, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk and South Norfolk – and the remainder from central government.
The high-speed network installed by BT’s local network business, Openreach, as a result of the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme is available on an open, wholesale basis to all communication providers, therefore offering Norfolk households and businesses the benefit of real choice from a highly competitive market.
Each roadside fibre broadband cabinet serves homes and businesses in a very localised area such as part of a village or town. As faster services become available, people will be able to check whether their home or business can receive them via the Better Broadband for Norfolk website.