Suffolk MPs unite for broadband funding

The seven Conservative Members of Parliament representing Suffolk have today united in their appeal for Government funding for broadband in Suffolk.

Peter Aldous, Therese Coffey, Ben Gummer, Matthew Hancock, Daniel Poulter, David Ruffley and Tim Yeo have signed a joint letter to Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of Broadband Delivery UK, (the body charged with allocating Government funding for broadband), outlining the critical importance of broadband to the County’s economic recovery.

Suffolk is among the worst-served areas of the country for broadband, with average broadband speeds of less than 5Mbps, and with nearly one-fifth of all Suffolk premises (~60,000) getting broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps.

As estimated one-third of the population of Suffolk live in the larger towns in the county, but the other two-thirds live in the other smaller towns, villages, hamlets and farms across rural Suffolk, beyond the likely reach of commercial deployments of higher-speed broadband services. The ‘Final Third’ at a national level, is nearer a ‘Final Two Thirds’ in Suffolk.

Suffolk is generally a low-wage, low-skill, low value-added economy, but we have an ambitious strategy for economic growth, the transformation of the delivery of public services, a better environment, and empowering local communities. Broadband is a critical enabler.

The Suffolk Local Broadband Plan, has developed a robust, detailed analysis of current broadband coverage in Suffolk, and future technology and deployment options and costs to deliver our plan, while retaining the flexibility to tailor and prioritise each phase of deployment in different parts of the county by working in partnership with local communities.

The plan aims to deliver an improvement in broadband speeds and reliability for everyone in Suffolk by 2015, with ~85% enjoying Superfast Broadband speeds of 20Mbps+, with the remaining ~15% also getting a significant improvement in broadband speeds (2Mbps – 10Mbps). The submitted proposal will deliver this ‘whole county’ plan by using public funding to leverage further investment by commercial operators through a competitive procurement process.

The plan has strong backing from a wide range of stakeholders groups across the County, and is ready to go out to procurement in early June, subject to a successful outcome from the BDUK Spring 2011 Award Round.

Commenting, Peter Aldous said:

“The problems that Suffolk faces in achieving superfast broadband were spelt out at the recent Beccles Conference. In Waveney, for example, as many as 23 per cent of constituents receive speeds of 2Mbs or less. Government funding is likely to be needed to tip the business case for commercial operators to invest to improve this. The Suffolk Local Broadband Plan has my full support and if successful I look forward to working with its authors to ensure our communities receive the best quality provision possible.”

Contact Peter Aldous MP

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