Superfast web to bring £5 billion

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SUPERFAST broadband will be coming to the deepest, darkest depths of rural Suffolk later this year, bringing a £5 billion boost to the county’s economy.

Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee, said the project would rid the county of its ‘digital divide’.

“We should be one of the first four local authorities in the country to get superfast broadband so that will give us a real edge,” said Cllr Bee.

The council will select its preferred contractor in the autumn with Fujitsu and BT leading the race to roll out the superfast broadband programme.

The project aims to bring minimum broadband speeds of 25mbs per second to every household and business in the county. Work will start before the end of the year.

Superfast broadband should then be in Suffolk homes and businesses by March 2015, while further improvements should bring speeds closer to 100mbs per second by 2020.

“It is a huge, huge step forward for Suffolk,” said Cllr Bee.

“There are still parts of this county that are on dial up. The average speeds are 2-3mbs per second but you do get this digital divide.”

Cllr Bee said the county-wide project would be a boost for residents performing tasks like online banking and for small businesses.

“It will put something like £5 billion into the local economy,” said Cllr Bee.

He met Suffolk MPs at Westminster on Monday to outline the latest in the broadband campaign.

The council is putting £10 million into the project and has secured £11 million of Government funding.

Cllr Bee said the programme ‘looked on shaky ground’ a year ago after missing out on an intitial round of Government funding.

“I’m thrilled by the progress we’ve made,” he said.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said: “I congratulate Mark Bee in making sure Suffolk is at the head of the queue.

“I will be requesting further details of exactly where the work will begin to ensure that Bury and the West of Suffolk is prioritised.”