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, secured around £24m of public money (SCC and Central Government), which was been used to leverage further private sector investment from BT through a public procurement process. With this money we will were 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 initial programme was completed in September 2015, we had reached around 85% of Suffolk premises with fibre optic based broadband (as opposed to the old copper lines), and the remaining 15% are offered an interim solution, which represents a usable, reliable, upgradable connection.
Conscious that stopping at 85% fibre coverage would leave 15% of Suffolk without upgrades, we signed a second contract with BT to continue upgrades beyond September 2015 and into 2019. This was under the government "Superfast Extension Programme" and Suffolk were the first county to sign nationally under this scheme. This scheme will result in over 95% coverage of fibre broadband in Suffolk.
Beyond this, we are committed to reaching 100% superfast broadband coverage in Suffolk as quickly as possible.