Better Broadband for Suffolk reaches 100,000th customer as third phase contract is agreed

More than 100,000 households across Suffolk are already using faster broadband, thanks to the council-led Better Broadband for Suffolk programme.

The partnership - between Suffolk County Council, Openreach, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) and local councils – has made faster broadband available to around 150,000 premises so far, since being launched in 2010.

It means the current total superfast broadband coverage in Suffolk stands at more than 96 per cent, with plans currently in place to reach 98 per cent coverage before the end of the year.

The team has plans to go even further, after today announcing an additional phase of work, to provide connectivity to approximately 5,000 more premises, including over 550 businesses, in some of the most rural parts of Suffolk.

The work will be carried out by Openreach – operator of the UK’s largest phone and broadband network, used by the likes of BT, Sky, Plusnet and TalkTalk – and is set to start as soon as deployment under the current contract ends. Work will continue until September 2022.

Faster broadband provides many benefits including staying in contact with friends and family through video conferencing services, easier web browsing and online shopping, the ability to stream high definition video and work from home. Covid-19 has led to many of these benefits becoming even more crucial during times of social distancing and will have a large part to play during the recovery phase.

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, said:

“It is incredible to think that over 100,000 homes and businesses in Suffolk are now using Superfast Broadband as a result of this project. Faster and more reliable broadband is more important now with many of us using digital devices to stay in contact with family and friends or working from home. As Suffolk, and the rest of the UK, begin to move into the recovery phase – Superfast Broadband will continue to play a crucial role. To find out if Superfast Broadband is available in your area please contact your service provider or visit the Better Broadband for Suffolk website.

Our ambition has always been, and will always be, to achieve total Superfast Broadband coverage across Suffolk. With the contract now being signed on the third phase of the programme, we are closer to realising that goal. This will mean that some of the most rural and hard to reach premises in Suffolk will enjoy equal or faster speeds than some major cities and towns across the UK.”

Laura Whelan, Openreach’s regional director for the East of England, said:

“We’ve already made a great deal of progress across Suffolk, making faster broadband available to thousands for the first time. We know there is more to do connecting up the most remote areas, and that’s why we’re delighted to be working with Suffolk County Council on extending that reach even further. Openreach has an important role within the East of England, with more than 3,400 of our people living and working here. We’ve also recently announced a great deal of work to build full fibre in some of the most ‘hard to reach’ rural areas, including Bungay, Saxmundham and Kentford.”

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said:

"We've invested almost £30 million into this project to deliver faster broadband to rural homes and businesses across Suffolk. I am pleased so many people have taken up superfast and full fibre internet connections for the economic and social benefits they bring.

"But there are more homes to connect in Suffolk and across the UK, so we have pledged a further £5 billion to make sure people in hard-to-reach areas get the high-quality broadband they deserve.”