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First part of Norfolk fibre rollout finished 'early and under budget'

Tuesday, November 3rd 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The first part of Norfolk’s superfast broadband rollout has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget, according to organisers.

Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN), a partnership between Norfolk County Council and BT, has given 185,885 homes access to fibre-based broadband since it was launched in December 2012.

Phase one of the programme was due to finish in December this year, but as well as finishing early has also reached more premises than originally planned.

The number of people with access to superfast broadband in the county has almost doubled – from 43% in 2012 to more than 80% now.

That figure should be even higher by March 2016, when faster broadband services will be made available to the first areas included in the second BBfN contract.

Parts of Burgh St Peter, Barnham Broom, Barford, Bawdeswell, North Creake, Dereham, Ashwellthorpe, Bradwell, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Shropham, Hanworth, Starston, Harleston, Hickling, Sea Palling, Thuxton, Cawston, Bradenham, Southrepps, Gunthorpe, Ridlington, East Ruston, Weasenham St Peter, Little Fransham, Topcroft, Woodton and Wymondham are all set to benefit.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of 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.”

'Twin ambitions'

Phase two of the BBfN programme, a £17.9m deal between Norfolk County Council and BT, aims to take fibre coverage in the county to 90%.

Norfolk’s five district councils – Breckland, Broadland, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk and South Norfolk – have committed a further £7m of funding and £5.3m has been made available by BT because take-up of fibre services was better than expected.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “Improving the broadband reach across the county is absolutely vital to our twin ambitions of improving infrastructure and creating real jobs.

“It makes Norfolk more attractive to relocating businesses and supports Norfolk’s growing hi-tech business sector.

“It also helps flexible and home working to reduce business costs, and supports our population gaining skills, accessing services they need and staying connected to the wider world.”

Digital minister Ed Vaizey added: “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.”

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