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Better Broadband for Suffolk update: December 2016

Matthew Morling, CAS’s IT Manager, sits on the Broadband Partnership Board and provides the following update from its most recent meeting, on 15 December 2016.

“We are aware that the subject of Superfast Broadband continues to be a very emotive one and one that has a massive impact on people’s live’s in today’s world – especially for those living in rural areas. We understand the difficulties that not having good quality, high speed broadband can cause for communities. Community Action Suffolk continues to have a permanent presence on the Broadband Partnership Board (which meets quarterly and discussed Fibre rollout progress across the county plus a variety of issues and updates) and continues to pass on the concerns and issues of those rural communities affected by this issue. We are not the only ones doing this – a number of other statutory partners are doing the same.

Having a place on this board has shed light on a number of myths and factors that aren’t perhaps obvious from the outside.”


Superfast broadband: Myth Busting and information

1. How do I check whether I can get or when I will be able to get Superfast Fibre Broadband?

Visit www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com and use the My Location box on the right hand side and insert your postcode.

2. When I check the Better Broadband for Suffolk website it says “under consideration for upgrade between 2017 and 2019” – does this mean I will never get it?

No not necessarily, the text says what it means. BT and Suffolk County Council will only provide confirmed upgrade information for the next 6-9 month periods. If you are not specifically down for upgrades for upgrades within this period then this is the text you will receive when you search for your property. If you are not in this period but you would like to know when or if you are likely to get Superfast broadband then please email broadband@suffolk.gov.uk and they may be able to give you further information.

3. Why doesn’t Suffolk County Council publish Superfast Upgrade information for longer periods?

This has been a point we have raised with them directly and the reasons given is that they want to ensure that public money is best used. If longer phases were provided it is likely that less properties overall would get access to Superfast broadband.

4. I have been told I am unlikely to get Superfast broadband before the end of 2019, if at all. What are my options?

Suffolk County Council are operating a Satellite/Wireless broadband voucher scheme which would fund most, if not all of the installation of either Satellite or Wireless broadband – if your speeds are less than 2mbps and the Satellite or Wireless provider operates in your area. If you think this could be you then click here and complete the form. Please note, you still need to pay any monthly charges associated with any subscription.

If this issue affects a wider community then many voices are always better than one. If this is the case then contact broadband@suffolk.gov.uk and they may be able to suggest some different options, such as self dig schemes, where a local farmer or estate owner could do a lot of the expensive digging work to assist in bringing forward any potential upgrades. Working together as a local community, you may also be able to go to wireless broadband providers and as a community “club together” and get wireless broadband installed for your community by sharing the install costs. There may also be funding available from your local parish councils or district councils to assist you with this.

5. Is Suffolk County Council committed to serving everybody in Suffolk, including those in rural areas?

Yes, there is a desire that 100% of properties within Suffolk will have access to Superfast broadband via Fibre. Currently they believe there is guaranteed funding to get to the 98% mark in 2020. In the meantime all of us are working hard in looking at the options for this final 2%.


Broadband Partnership Board Update

  • BT is reporting a 38% take-up rate (to date) of Fibre broadband services from properties that were covered in the first broadband contract – which ended one year ago. This is well above the initial predicted 20% threshold which means that Suffolk County Council has been able to claw back some of the public subsidy given to BT. This has already been re-invested and will continue to be re-invested into extending the amount of properties that can get Fibre broadband. Suffolk County Council believes that within the next 12 months this figure should be nearer 50% which will also mean further ability to claw back money from BT.
  • Within the second contract (which is currently operating) the initial stated target of 95% of properties in Suffolk to have access to Superfast Broadband should now be extended to around 98% of properties. This contract is due for completion at the end of 2019 although this extension of the target may now push this into 2020.
  • The final 2% of properties which are yet to have plans for an upgrade to Superfast Broadband equates to around 10,000 properties. The Broadband partnership, is pushing for further clarification on who this 2% will be and discussions at further meetings are planned to look at the options around temporary solutions or community schemes to bring forward Superfast broadband speeds via alternative solutions or methods of delivery if there is no likelihood of this being provided over Fibre any time soon.

Matthew Morling, IT Manager
matthew.morling@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk
01473 345321