Fast track boost for broadband

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SUFFOLK and Norfolk will be the first counties to get superfast broadband into people’s homes after a joint funding scheme between Government, local authorities and private enterprise was fast tracked.

The news, announced on Wednesday, came as BT revealed it was rolling out superfast fibre optic broadband to 134,000 homes and businesses in Suffolk and 85,000 in Norfolk.

Homes and businesses in Stowmarket, Mildenhall and Thetford are the latest to benefit from this next phase of BT’s £2.5 billion programme.

A timetable has now been drawn up to fast track the Government-backed programme, which aims to have 85 per cent of Suffolk’s premises gaining access to superfast fibre optic internet connection. The scheme has received a pledge of £10 million from Suffolk and £11.68 million from Broadband Delivery UK.

Over the next six months the Suffolk Better Broadband Programme Board, led by the county council and including representatives from borough and district councils, businesses and the voluntary sector, will nominate priority areas and encourage people to register their interest in superfast broadband.

Between April and September 2012 the board will be choosing a supplier and before the end of 2012 it expects that work will start with completion aimed for March 2015.

Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee said: “This is the most important milestone so far in our campaign. People, businesses and local communities can now really look forward to a broadband revolution which will change their lives.”