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Better Broadband for Suffolk programme hits 25,000 properties milestone

Press release   •   Apr 07, 2014 00:00 BST

308 miles of fibre cable laid in eight months

Over 25,000 homes and businesses can now connect to faster broadband - as the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme enters its eighth month of action. 
Just 32 weeks since the first green roadside cabinets were switched on, residents and business owners in more than1900 postcodes – approximately a quarter of those set to benefit from the programme - can now order the new broadband technology. 

Nearly 5500 of the properties, all in rural areas in and around Aldeburgh, Leiston, Saxmundham, Wickham Market and Framlingham, can now connect because of a new piece of equipment which has been installed in Saxmundham. The ‘head end’ – a central point which serves thousands of properties - was made to order in China and is one of three that will eventually be installed specifically across the county as part of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme. 

It’s all part of a multi million pound partnership between Suffolk County Council, BT and the Government to extend the availability of high-speed fibre broadband throughout the county, especially in rural areas. 

This is just the early stages of this major programme. Suffolk County Council has committed to ensuring that by the end of 2015, every property in Suffolk has access to broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) while 85 per cent of homes and businesses will be able to benefit from superfast speeds (24Mbps or more). 

Every three months, between now and the end of 2015, approximately 10,000 more properties will be given access to better broadband. 

The partnership is building on BT’s existing commercial plans, which have already made fibre broadband available to around 200,000 Suffolk premises. 

Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, said: 

“Giving over 25,000 properties access to faster broadband in just eight months is a significant achievement and clearly demonstrates the great things to come from the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme. 

“We’re now making significant inroads into more rural parts of the county – precisely what we set out to do when we launched Better Broadband for Suffolk. 

“Faster broadband will boost Suffolk’s economy, help us to attract new businesses to the county and create new jobs. It will also make it far easier for residents to access the internet and the benefits it can offer. 

“I’m tremendously proud of what we have achieved and look forward to seeing the rollout completed by the end of next year.” 

The new technology provides download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, with the potential for even faster speeds in the future1. 

Openreach has also started to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand2 in certain areas where fibre broadband has been deployed, and plans to expand access in due course. FTTP-on-demand offers the top current download speed of 330Mbps.1 

Businesses in these areas will be able to work faster and more efficiently. Having fibre broadband means users are able to run multiple, bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data faster. Computer systems will be easier to back up and high quality video conferencing will become more commonplace. 

Suffolk County Council estimates that over the next 15 years, the project will provide a £2 billion boost to the local economy and will create 1,500 jobs. 

Residents can also enjoy a boost in speeds for home entertainment. They will able to simultaneously download movies, transfer files, watch TV replays, surf the internet and play online games. 

Downloading a whole music album could take them less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds. 

Dave Hughes, BT’s East of England regional director, said: “It is a fantastic achievement that so many people in Suffolk are already seeing the benefits of this programme. This investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create and protect local jobs in communities like Aldeburgh, Leiston, Saxmundham, Wickham Market and Framlingham and also across Suffolk. It will be of enormous benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.” 

The roadside fibre broadband cabinets that are being connected to the new network serve very localised areas so not all parts of the towns and villages where they are located will be able to receive fibre broadband initially. As the service becomes increasingly available, people will be able to use the Better Broadband for Suffolk website (www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com) to check whether their home or business can receive better broadband services.