Thousands of rural homes to benefit from broadband funding
- Credit: PA
More than 210,000 rural homes and businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk are set to benefit from a multi-billion broadband levelling-up fund.
In Norfolk, between £115 and £195m is being invested in upgrading networks to bring "lightning-fast" broadband speeds to properties.
The funding is part of Project Gigabit, a government scheme to upgrade broadband infrastructure in "hard-to-reach areas".
The scheme is in addition to commercial providers’ roll out which is seeing gigabit broadband being deployed rapidly across the country - from one in ten households in the UK in 2019 to more than two in five today.
Project Gigabit aims to target areas that would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ rollout plans.
It is hoped that homes and businesses benefitting from the scheme will see available broadband speeds rocket to more than 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second - enough to download a HD movie in less than 30 seconds.
The government expects to invest between £115m and £195m in Norfolk money which will benefit 118,700 homes and between £89m and £151m in Suffolk, benefitting 92,000 homes.
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Work to connect the counties will begin in January 2023.
It is also hoped the investment will aid the country's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Tom FitzPatrick, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for innovation, transformation and performance, said: “NCC is committed to making Norfolk the best connected rural county in the country and we are striving for 100pc availability of fast broadband to all Norfolk properties."
He said the council welcomed the latest Government announcement and "the huge benefits" it will bring the county.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “Project Gigabit will help our residents to fully benefit from digital opportunities, help our businesses grow and improve their profitability, and significantly benefit our rural economy.”
Oliver Dowden, the digital secretary said: “We’re powering ahead in our national mission to level up the regions and build back better.
“Today we can reveal how our £5 billion Project Gigabit broadband fund is going to help rural communities across England’s eastern counties get access to lightning-fast internet connections and give people the freedom to live and work flexibly and seize the benefits of modern technology.”