Funding aid bid for superfast broadband bid

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Suffolk County Council is set to contribute £439,000 towards the improvement of broadband coverage across the county.

The cabinet is being asked to contribute £51,000 a year, over the next four years, along with £235,000 from the county council’s capital budget.

The total cost of the programme is £41.7 million, £20 million of which has been requested from government as well as £20 million from the private sector.

The aim of the programme is to achieve access to a minimum two megabits per second (Mbps) speed in the first two years. There is also the aim of one fifth of all Suffolk premises receiving speeds of up to 20Mbps by 2015.

The funding announcement follows a push by all seven Suffolk MPs to get better broadband within the county.

They say that while nationally one third of the population don’t get commercial superfast broadband in Suffolk the figure is nearer two thirds.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said: “The need for faster broadband is absolutely critical to the future of our community and businesses, even more important than some of the busier counties”

Suffolk, which has previously been labelled one of the worst served areas of the country for broadband, is currently receiving average speeds of less than five Mbps.

Suffolk County Council says that, having a faster broadband access in Suffolk will help improve future business investment and growth, as well as expanding the range of everyday activites carried out by individuals.

County council leader-elect Mark Bee said that areas within Ipswich have good coverage, compared to the more rural areas in which some people have to rely on dial-up connections.

Councillor Bee said: “The Suffolk bid for faster broadband looks promising. With the support of local authorities, Suffolk County Council seems highly interested in supporting the programme”.