MPs want cash to end ‘apartheid’ in broadband

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ALL seven Suffolk MPs have signed a letter calling for broadband cash for the county.

The MPs have written to Robert Sullivan, chief executive of Broadband Delivery UK, the body charged with distributing Government cash, to put the case that good broadband is essential for Suffolk’s economic recovery.

Their letter says Suffolk is among the worst served areas of the country for broadband with average speeds less than five megabits per second (Mbps) and nearly a fifth of premises, 60,000, getting less than 2Mbps. They say that while nationally one third of the population live beyond likely commercial superfast broadband deployments, in Suffolk the figure is nearer two thirds.

West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock said that was the case in his constituency, even though superfast broadband was due to be rolled out fairly soon in towns like Newmarket.

“Mildenhall, Brandon and the rural areas are still pushing for it,” he said. “One of the reasons we as MPs are campaigning together is that support from Broadband Delivery UK will help us to plug that gap. Mildenhall and Brandon need to get a date set for superfast.”

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said complaints about super slow broadband were a ‘constant refrain’ in villages around Bury when he was out campaigning in support of the local election candidates.

“It’s not just for leisure, there are lots of businesses pulling their hair out,” he said. “I dread to think of the number of complaints that will rightly be made if we don’t get the money.”

Mr Ruffley felt it reasonable that priority should be given now in the towns where it is easy to roll out faster broadband but he warned BT not to hide behind county speed averages and to make sure rural areas got their fair share of investment.

“It’s not just getting the money but how it’s going to be spread out so rural dwellers are not discriminated against,” he said. “I don’t want to see broadband apartheid against rural areas.”