The UK Government’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has released £1.725m to help improve “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) coverage in rural parts of Suffolk. The money is expected to result in a further 550 business and 600 non-business (homes etc.) premises being covered.
At present the existing £64m state aid supported Better Broadband for Suffolk (BBS) project with Openreach (BT) has already achieved 93%+ coverage of superfast ISP networks (up from just 50% in 2013) and they aim to reach 98% coverage by the end of 2020.
On top of that the local authority has consistently said they’re “committed to reaching 100% Superfast Broadband coverage in Suffolk as quickly as possible” and today’s announcement is all about helping to chip away at the final 2%. This generally represents some of the most poorly served rural communities in the county.
Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said:
“This is great news for Suffolk and really underlines the success we have when local councils work together. With 98% of Suffolk already funded to receive Superfast Broadband, we are doing all we can to reach the remaining businesses and residents, so I congratulate the teams on securing this funding.
By helping businesses to go Superfast, we are enabling them to unlock new ways of working, access new online markets and helping them grow and be successful.”
Apparently work on connecting the new areas will begin “later in 2019,” although the announcement doesn’t clarify precisely how the funding will be used, where or by who. The most likely outcome is that it will go toward an extension of the existing BT contract and many such deals being signed today tend to focus on ultrafast “full fibre” FTTP more than the older generation of superfast “hybrid fibre” FTTC (VDSL2) services (not yet confirmed for Suffolk).
On the other hand Cityfibre last year secured the contract to build a new Gigabit (1Gbps+) capable “full fibre” broadband / Ethernet network in Suffolk (here), which will initially focus on connecting public sector sites across 10 towns before being expanded to reach local businesses and possibly homes. In theory the new funding could play a role in that but the focus at this stage for Cityfibre is different from what has been announced today.