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Norfolk Complete First BDUK and BT Fibre Broadband Rollout Contract

Monday, November 2nd, 2015 (4:13 pm) - Score 838

The Better Broadband for Norfolk project in England has become the latest BT and Broadband Delivery UK programme based Phase One contract to complete its roll-out ahead of schedule, which means that 83% of local premises should now be able to order a faster “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) service.

A short update on the project’s website also states that the number of people with access to superfast broadband (24Mbps+) speeds has “almost doubled in under three years from 43% in 2012 to more than 80% now” (i.e. more than 185,885 properties in the county have access to a “fibre connection”).

Under the original plan the first contract was supposed to completely by the end of 2015, although it actually finished three months ahead of that target (today is merely the official confirmation).

Bill Murphy, BT’s MD for Next Generation Access, said:

It’s a fantastic achievement that we’ve delivered this contract early and under budget, but most importantly, we’ve made superfast broadband available to more homes and businesses than we originally planned.

This demonstrates the strength of the partnership between BT and Norfolk County Council, as well as the determination of the people working on the programme, and we’ll continue working well together to deliver the next stages of the rollout to reach even more properties.

When BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme is also included, it means that 357,000 Norfolk homes and businesses now have access to this exciting technology.”

Admittedly 83% is still some-way off the Government’s 90% national target, although a new BDUK Phase Two £17.9m Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) contract was signed earlier this year (here), which pledged to push the raw “fibre broadband” network footprint out to 90% by 2017 (given the results above we suspect that this 90% references 24Mbps+ coverage).

The first areas to benefit from the next phase of the project, who will get access to improved services by March 2016, have also been announced and among them are parts of Ashwellthorpe, Burgh St Peter , Barnham Broom, Barford, Gunthorpe, Little Fransham, North Creake, Sartson, Sea Palling, Topcrost and West Newton.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said:

Our rollout of superfast broadband across Norfolk has been a tremendous success so far, reaching more homes and businesses than originally forecast and finishing the first stage three months earlier than planned. The next stage will see even more properties get access to superfast broadband and I congratulate Better Broadband for Norfolk on their excellent progress to date.”

On top of all that a further £5.3 million has been found from Clawback to help future coverage to reach even more remote areas (here), although quite how this will be reinvested has yet to be confirmed (it’s more likely to play a role in any future BDUK Phase Three deployment).

It should be said that Norfolk is an extremely rural county and that makes it much harder and more expensive for operator’s to tackle, which will become more of a challenge in future phases.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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