In Suffolk, there are commercial broadband upgrades (e.g. BT's Infinity Broadband, the Virgin Media presence). However, these services are generally constrained to the urban areas, where telephone lines are short and densely packed together, providing easy areas to upgrade commercially. This unfortunately means that around a third of Suffolk does not represent a sustainable commercial business case for upgrades, hence the Better Broadband for Suffolk Programme.
Therefore, the Better Broadband for Suffolk Programme, run by Suffolk County Council, has secured around £24m of public money (SCC and Central Government), which has been used to leverage further private sector investment from BT through a public procurement process. With this money we will be able to intervene in all areas which will not be subject to commercial upgrades, using this state aid funding to ensure that they do not miss out. It is important to note that we may only use state aid funding in areas which the market has no plans to upgrade commercially.
Once the programme is completed in 2015, we will have ensured that 90% of Suffolk premises are served by fibre optic based broadband (as opposed to the old copper lines), and the remaining 10% will have varying speeds between 2Mbps and 24Mbps, which represents a usable, reliable, upgradable connection. Work will start on this next year, with incremental progress towards 2015.
Once completed, we will see 90% fibre based broadband coverage, of which 85% (of the 90% on fibre based broadband) will receive superfast (24Mbs+) speeds. The other 5% (of the 90% on fibre based broadband) will be on fibre based broadband and receive speeds at around 10Mbps, 15Mbps etc. That leaves 10% of the county who will not be on fibre based broadband, and these people will receive varying speeds, often mostly between 5Mbps and 20Mbps (largely depending on the distance between the home and the green street cabinets), however the commitment is that nobody will be left with a speed of less than 2Mbps by the end of the intervention.
In the longer term, we are able to claw back revenue if take up exceeds forecasts, as well as bid for any further funding in future parliaments, and will look to further intervene to deliver greater coverage and speed beyond 2015. Our focus has been on coverage rather than speed.