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Hundreds of public buildings in Norfolk upgraded to ultrafast broadband

Norfolk County Council, 5 September 2022 00:00

394 public buildings across rural Norfolk, including libraries, schools, and museums, have been connected to ultrafast full fibre broadband under the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) initiative to improve internet access for public services in the hardest to reach parts of the county.

The completion of the LFFN programme marks the end of the latest broadband improvement project in Norfolk. LFFN, funded by the UK government, is a significant step towards the UK government levelling up strategy across the whole of the UK.

The LFFN included:

  • £6m of DCMS funding to improve public services across rural Norfolk
  • An additional £1.6m of levelling up funding via the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to extend the reach of the LFFN

Buildings such as fire stations in rural Norfolk have been under the UK Government initiative, which aims to level up public services and speed up rollout.

The LFFN, alongside the existing Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme, is making a tangible difference to the lives of families, people, and communities across the county, making Norfolk an attractive place for businesses and new commercial broadband suppliers to invest in.

Vital local services across all of rural Norfolk can now access internet speeds at least ten times faster than their old, mostly copper-based, connections thanks to the investment. For many locations it has also reduced their ongoing annual costs.

All 394 buildings now have greatly improved and ultra-reliable connectivity to help the productivity and user experience of the public services they offer and, as their requirements increase in the future, they will be able to tap into speeds of up to a gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second.

It means schools and libraries now have access to fast and reliable broadband services, allowing for improved access to internet resources. It allows them to offer additional service such as adult and extracurricular learning.

The new and extensive infrastructure that has been installed to facilitate these ultrafast connections will incentivise commercial broadband providers to deliver upgrades to surrounding homes and businesses in Norfolk. It allows a much more cost-effective implementation of new gigabit capable networks, even deeper into Norfolk, by extending the government-funded gigabit network.

Cllr Tom FitzPatrick, Cabinet Member for Innovation, Transformation and Performance, said: "We are thrilled with the roll-out of ultrafast broadband in the county. Digital connectivity in a rural county such as ours is vital to ensure that Norfolk fully benefits from the advantages brought by technology.

"Working with partners to implement a high-speed network will bring future investment into Norfolk and enable residents to have easier and better access to public services. These rollouts mean our residents can properly access the whole range of commercial offerings that people now expect. Good and resilient ultrafast broadband will bring real benefits to both residents and businesses."

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: "Our £5.8 million investment has connected hundreds of public buildings in Norfolk to first-class broadband - helping to revolutionise public services by putting schools, libraries and hospitals in the digital fast lane.

"The money is part of our record £5 billion Project Gigabit, which is the biggest broadband rollout in British history, to make sure no-one misses out on the benefits of next-generation internet speeds."

The successful implementation of ultrafast broadband to 394 public buildings under the LFFN programme is just one way that the UK Government and Norfolk County Council is working in partnership to improve digital infrastructure across Norfolk.

The existing Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme, funded by the Government, Norfolk County Council, and other partners, has been successful in delivering superfast broadband to 200,000 premises across Norfolk, helping to raise the superfast broadband coverage in Norfolk from 42% in 2011 to 96% today.

BBfN is due to end in 2023, by which time around 9,000 further premises will have access to ultrafast broadband.

The investment is just one way the UK government is improving connectivity in Norfolk. Last year ministers announced significant investment in Norfolk with up to 86,000 rural premises in Norfolk in scope for a broadband upgrade via Project Gigabit: a £5 billion programme that is prioritising the most hard-to-reach areas for upgrades fast enough to support even the most data-intensive technologies such as 8k video streaming and virtual reality gaming.

Catherine King, Executive Deputy Head of Sandringham & West Newton Primary School, one of the schools to benefit from the scheme, said: "The benefits of the improved fibre broadband connection have been great. It has afforded us the opportunity to use different video conferencing platforms across multiple sites for teaching, training, and meetings, which previously was a challenge due to poor connectivity. This was a lifeline during the pandemic and has supported us to adjust to the new requirements for blended working.

"Additionally, the improved service has been fantastic for teachers. Gone are the days of children watching a buffering screen whilst trying to share a video to enhance their learning; we no longer have to worry.

"The federation operates through Google Suite more effectively than it ever has previously, to hold meetings, collaborate on documents, and share resources which is especially useful where mobile signal is dreadful. Overall, it has made the ever-increasing technological demands of the teaching profession far easier to manage."

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:43

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