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Further broadband funding bid for Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 16:31 17 September 2012 | UPDATED: 16:33 17 September 2012

Mark Bee, Leader of  Suffolk County Council.

Mark Bee, Leader of Suffolk County Council.

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Leading Suffolk County councillors will be asked next week to approve an additional £1.3m of funding to help connect Suffolk’s rural households and businesses to high speed broadband.

At a special meeting of Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet on Monday morning, which will be attended by MPs and other council leaders, the latest developments in the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign will be discussed, along with details of how the programme might be rolled out.

If approved, the additional funding will add to the £10m already pledged by Suffolk County Council.

It means Suffolk will meet the requirement of matching pound for pound the funding central government has awarded to Suffolk to create a broadband network fit for the twenty first century.

The latest milestone comes after an overwhelmingly positive response from more than 12,000 Suffolk businesses and residents.

This beat the 10,000 target set by Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign.

He said: “Everyday, Suffolk is moving closer to a broadband revolution.

“We were one of the first four counties to actively go out to the market and invite bids, we have overwhelming public support behind us and if this additional money is approved, we’ll have all the public funding in place to reach the next stage.

“I am thrilled by the progress we’ve made and look forward to seeing months of hard work and negotiations materialise into superfast broadband access across Suffolk.”

The aim of the programme is to extend access to broadband to the areas of Suffolk which currently have slow speeds.

By 2015, over 90pc of premises in the county should be able to access superfast broadband of 24Mbps.

The remaining 10pc should have had a significant increase in available speed and reliability with a minimum of 2Mbps.

By the end of the year, the first businesses and homes should be connected.

Suffolk County Council is currently in the middle of the process to select a preferred supplier to deliver the project.

It is believed technology giant BT will win the £40m contract as the other bidder Fujitsu has said it has pulled out of the bidding contract.

The special cabinet meeting will be held at Endeavour House at 11am on Monday.

BT was confirmed on Monday as the preferred bidder for Norfolk’s similar better broadband bid, which saw Norfolk County Council pledge £15m in match funding for the project.

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