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Councillors discuss plans to close the 5% broadband gap

10 May 2018

Councillors from Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee will meet tomorrow to agree ways the council could work with internet connectivity providers to ensure that 100% of homes and businesses across Norfolk have access to broadband.

The Better Broadband for Norfolk programme is set to deliver 95% coverage by April 2020, but Norfolk County Council is committed to achieving 100%, which means it needs to find new ways to secure the final 5%.

Committee leaders and council officers have held a series of meetings with a group of network providers to explore ways the council could work with them to help cover the 5% gap.  A number of options are outlined in report going to tomorrow’s committee including helping providers obtain quick and cost-effective access to council owned assets to improve wireless broadband coverage and publishing intelligence which can be used by suppliers to inform where they should target their investments.

Network providers can use a number of different methods to provide connectivity including fibre, 4G or fixed wireless in areas.

Tom Garrod, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, said:  “The Better Broadband for Norfolk programme has done a great job getting us to 91% coverage, with a further 4% due to be completed by 2020.  But we can’t stop there. It’s essential that we secure 100% coverage across the county and the network providers will play a key part in providing this connectivity.”

Lesley Marsden, BB4ER Volunteer Treasurer, said:  “Better Broadband for East Ruston (BB4ER) welcomes the County Council pursuing innovative ways of both working with and supporting community broadband initiatives.  BB4ER aims to provide the East Ruston area with the fastest rural Fibre-to-the-Home broadband connections at an affordable price.  It will be built and operated by the community for the community as a not-for-profit utility with a considerable input from volunteers.

“The County Council proposals set out in the committee report, allied to the commitment by Vattenfall to assess our ideas have been a real boost for our group.  We now look forward to working with the County Council to develop a framework for delivering the assistance they recommend for community broadband initiatives such as ours.”

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