Suffolk heads for online ‘crossroads’

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RESIDENTS are to be consulted further on dramatic plans to launch superfast broadband in Suffolk.

They can comment on the priorities and requirements of the multi-million pound proposals to help Suffolk County Council choose an operator to deliver the improved service.

Bosses at the authority estimate the move will create £2 billion in economic growth, 5,000 full time jobs as well as raise skills and achievement levels.

The consultation was officially launched at the Suffolk Better Broadband conference at The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds, on Friday, which 250 people attended.

At the start of the event, Bury MP David Ruffley said: “It’s to put down a marker that Suffolk is willing, ready and gagging for the opportunity to get on with the most important bit of infrastructure in this county this century.”

On average, residents and small businesses receive under five megabits per second (Mbps) broadband speed in the county. Nearly 60,000 premises get less than 2Mbps.

The council’s ‘ultimate vision’ is to offer typical speeds of 100Mbps to everyone in Suffolk by 2020.

The one fifth who receive less than 2Mbps will get more than that by 2015.

The deployment plan up to 2015 will cost £45 million – with about half from central Government and council funding.

Private sector investment from a commercial operator will make up the rest.

At the conference, Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said the plans could lead to a ‘rural renaissance’ in the county.

He added: “We’re at a serious crossroads with a great opportunity to deliver significant growth, jobs and prosperity to the people of Suffolk.”

The consultation closes on March 31. To respond, write to Jonathan Chown, Business Development, Suffolk County Council, Endeavour House, Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX or email broadband@suffolk.gov.uk

The council is also conducting a survey to assess the demand for better broadband. Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/broadband