BT and the Norfolk County Council (NCC) have today signed a new £41 million contract, which will see a mix of public and private money being used to help make superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP services reach “more than” 80% of local homes and businesses by autumn 2015 (i.e. below the UK’s national target of at least 90%).
The Better Broadband for Norfolk project states that those living outside of their 80% target should still receive “significantly higher” speeds than the minimum standard of 2Mbps. It predicts that some 20% of these premises will be able to receive speeds ranging from 5Mbps and 23Mbps, while 49% are expected to be able to access between 50 to 100Mbps and a further 6% should be able to receive in excess of 100Mbps. It’s estimated that around 57% of the county’s premises would not have been able to access a superfast service without the use of state aid.
The government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office has already allocated £15,440,000 to help the region, which will be matched by another £15m from the local authority and then a further £11m from BT itself.
Bill Murphy, Managing Director of BT’s NGA Division, said:
“This project will move Norfolk well and truly into the broadband fast lane with fibre being rolled out to the majority of the county. With the internet central to virtually every aspect of modern life, Norfolk’s lack of good broadband access has been a key concern to both businesses and residents alike.
Norfolk needs access to high speed broadband so it can continue to be recognised as a good place to do business and live. The number and quality of services, facilities and applications that businesses and individuals are able to access due to high speed broadband is increasing, and the benefits are rising exponentially. This project should prove to be the much needed catalyst to help regenerate the county’s predominantly rural economy.”
Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said:
“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for the people of Norfolk who will see the number of properties with access to superfast Broadband doubled over the next three years. We’re aiming for the UK to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, and there are many more projects like Norfolk getting underway around the nation over the next few months.”
As usual BT’s local roll-out will be dominated by the deployment of its up to 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) and 330Mbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based technologies. The money will go towards improving services to 270,000 Norfolk premises, which are said to be in need of state aid. This includes around 44,000 houses that are considered to be in broadband “not spots” (i.e. where there is either no access to a broadband service or only very slow and unreliable connectivity).
BTOpenreach will now begin to survey locations around the county and the first new services are then due to be available by the end of 2013, with other exchange areas set to be upgraded in phases over the following two years and the project set for completion by autumn 2015.