Norfolk villages to get superfast broadband

Villages near Norwich will be the first in the county to benefit from new superfast broadband.

In total 11,000 homes and businesses across Norfolk should benefit, BT said today.

The Drayton and St Faith exchange areas, as well as South Wootton near King's Lynn, are among 159 locations across the UK which will be upgraded by autumn 2011 in a �2.5bn plan. The technology will be available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies providing broadband services.

The telecoms firm says it is the biggest single commercial investment in fibre-based broadband ever undertaken in the UK.

BT and the government have previously come under fire for not doing enough to bring the county's internet connections up-to-speed, particularly in rural areas. In the last phase of upgrades, BT took a 'commercial decision' to exclude Norfolk and Suffolk.

Peter McCarthy-Ward, BT regional director for the East of England, said: 'This latest investment in super-fast broadband is great news for many homes and businesses in the East of England.

'Fibre broadband has the power to revolutionise the way we use the internet. It has huge implications for the way we live, learn and do business, with massive opportunities for entertainment, education and entrepreneurs. People in the East of England will soon be able to experience the internet as they've never seen it before.

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'We want to extend the fibre footprint and the benefits it brings to the final third of the UK where the economics pose a major challenge, but this will require a collective effort. An infrastructure project on this scale – arguably as important to the future of the East of England as the road or rail networks – can only be done in partnership. We're keen to talk to public and private sector organisations about how this can be achieved.

'Many factors are taken into account when making the tough decisions about where to focus our investment. We're working on ways to give people more of an opportunity to demonstrate where demand for next generation broadband is the greatest.'

Super-fast broadband, using fibre to street cabinets, offers faster download speeds of up to 40Mbps, potentially rising to 60Mbps, and upstream speeds of 10Mbps, which could rise to 15Mbps in the future. BT is also trialling 'fibre to the premise' broadband services, at download speeds of up to 100Mbps.

Ann Steward, Norfolk County Council cabinet Member for sustainable development, said: 'I am really pleased that Norfolk has finally begun to form part of the 21st century network. This will make a huge difference to residents in these areas and I hope this is the first of many such announcements and upgrades in other areas follow swiftly.

'We've been working determinedly in the last few months to convince BT to make this kind of investment in Norfolk, and I look forward to continued close working with the company to explore how we can make a case for further investment.'

Is your business being crippled by lack of broadband? Contact Evening News reporter Ben Kendall on 01603 772423 or email