Norfolk signs superfast broadband deal
Norfolk is celebrating the signing of a contract that will bring about tens of millions of pounds of public and private investment in Norfolk’s superfast broadband fibre network.
The historic deal between Norfolk County Council and BT aims to nearly double the number of Norfolk homes and businesses able to access superfast broadband within three years.
BT’s Managing Director of Next Generation Access (NGA) Bill Murphy came to County Hall in Norwich on 21 December to meet with councillors and senior officers at the County Council and formally launch the project.
Mr Murphy 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.”
Norfolk County Council is the first local authority nationally to sign a contract with a private sector partner through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) contract framework.
The multi-million pound deal is the culmination of two years’ work by the County Council which saw it secure £15m of Government funding last year to tackle broadband inequality in the county. The project intends to eliminate broadband ‘not spots’ by the autumn of 2015.
The year ahead
With the deal official, Openreach, BT’s local network division, will now begin the work on the ground, surveying locations around the county. This will allow BT to refine its draft designs to roll out its fibre network across the county to help ensure as many properties as possible can receive superfast broadband for the investment available.
Once these surveys are completed, details of the next stage of the project, which will see work to upgrade a number of the major exchanges in Norfolk, will be revealed. The first new services made possible by the upgraded infrastructure are 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.
In addition to covering the ongoing costs of supporting and maintaining the network, BT will make an £11m contribution towards the cost of installing the fibre infrastructure, bringing the total investment in the project to £41m.
Find out more: www.sayyestobroadband.co.uk
Pictured, from left: Ann Steward, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, and Bill Borrett, acting leader of Norfolk County Council, with Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of Next Generation Access.