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Multi-million pound bid to bring ‘next generation’ of broadband to Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 12:44 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:27 05 October 2017

A successful bid to the government could bring the 'next generation' of broadband to Norfolk. Pic: James Bass.

A successful bid to the government could bring the 'next generation' of broadband to Norfolk. Pic: James Bass.

Archant Norfolk Photographic / James Bass © 2011

A bid for a multi-million pound broadband boost for Norfolk could bring the UK’s fastest connections to the county.

Tom Garrod, Norfolk county councillor. Pic: Norfolk ConservativesTom Garrod, Norfolk county councillor. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives

Schools, hospitals and businesses could benefit and it could see ‘digital hubs’ where people could get online for a range of services - including video health consultations.

Councils in Norfolk would join forces to ask the government for cash towards a full fibre network, dubbed the ‘next generation of broadband’.

That would provide data at speeds nearing one gigabit per second - much quicker than superfast broadband - which runs at about 24 megabits per second.

If successful it would mean schools and hospitals could benefit from better broadband and businesses would be able to buy gigabit connection vouchers.

And public buildings could be connected to the speedier service, with the creation of digital hubs.

A council report states: “Digital hub sites would be located around Norfolk, offering digital ways to access services, for instance video calls to access specialist health consultations.

“It is envisaged these sites will offer full fibre business incubators units, providing not just access to high speed broadband, but a wide range of specialist support and advice services to support start-ups.”

The government recently announced pilot projects for the technology in Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

But, with £200m available, councils in Norfolk are keen to get a share of future money.

Norfolk County Council has already submitted an expression of interest for £13m.

At a meeting of the council’s digital innovation and efficiency committee next week, councillors are expected to decide to work with other councils and organisations, such as universities, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and the Chamber of Commerce, to submit a full bid.

Tom Garrod, chairman of the committee, said: “The projects being proposed have the potential to make a big difference and address some of the challenges we know people living, working and running businesses in Norfolk are facing.”

The level of match funding for the scheme will be established as the bid is pulled together.

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