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29 May 2014, 08:18 | Updated: 29 May 2014, 08:59
More than 50,000 homes and businesses in Norfolk now have access to high speed fibre broadband, after Norfolk County Council’s and BT’s Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme was launched.
The milestone comes 10 months after the first superfast services were made available in the village of Croxton, near Thetford. Since then, BT engineers have been installing fibre optic cabling and new green roadside fibre broadband cabinets in communities across the county.
Some of the latest areas to be upgraded to receive faster broadband are in and around Downham Market, Hunstanton, North Walsham and Watton. Later in the year, properties in and around Fakenham, Dersingham, Heacham and Poringland, among others, are due to join them.
The BBfN programme is set to continue until December 2015, with the ambition of ensuring over 80 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses can access high speed broadband services of 24Mbps and above. The council is hoping to extend the reach of the programme to bring superfast broadband to even more parts of Norfolk and is currently in discussions to secure match funding in order to bring in millions of pounds of extra central Government investment on top of the £15 million already committed by the Government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). An announcement about this is due over the summer.
George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “It’s impressive how much has been achieved by this public-private sector partnership in a relatively short space of time.
"Norfolk is ahead of most other counties that are part of the BDUK programme and we’re really starting to shed the ‘poor cousin’ tag in terms of our broadband connectivity.
"The importance of this cannot be overstated – it makes Norfolk a more attractive place to live, work and do business, increases educational opportunities and decreases social exclusion."
Tony Sutton lives in south Norfolk and now has a faster broadband service after a fibre broadband cabinet was installed nearby. He said: "Faster broadband has helped to make our lives easier. I’m deaf and rely heavily on the internet to make phone calls, contact people and businesses, organise interpreters and appointments, and to keep up-to-date with the news. Our old broadband speed was dreadfully slow, always buffering or losing connection.
For more information about the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme, visit www.betterbroadbandnorfolk.co.uk.