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What about the five per cent? Rural areas left behind in superfast broadband scheme

PUBLISHED: 17:03 21 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:04 21 February 2017

A field technician looking at a roadside cabinet.  Picture: James Bass

A field technician looking at a roadside cabinet. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

A surge of £11m investment led Norfolk County Council to announce 95pc of premises would have a superfast broadband connection by 2020 as their Better Broadband scheme continues.

File photo dated 02/02/16 of a BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines in Havant, Hampshire, as a Digital Economy Bill, announced in the Queen's speech, will make it easier and cheaper for telecommunications providers to establish faster broadband and more comprehensive mobile networks. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 18, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA WireFile photo dated 02/02/16 of a BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines in Havant, Hampshire, as a Digital Economy Bill, announced in the Queen's speech, will make it easier and cheaper for telecommunications providers to establish faster broadband and more comprehensive mobile networks. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 18, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

But with rural areas waiting a further three years and five per cent of the county with no plans for connectivity, the council has admitted they have to rely on customers hooking up their new connections to deliver the final phase.

Terry Clarkson, of Rushall parish council, described the delay as “an outrage”.

“We are quite isolated and there are 20 homes down here all of which suffer to some extent,” he said. “I am getting 1.3mbps to 1.5mbps some days - not enough to be reliant.”

He added: “The big issue is being overcharged for an inferior service. It is a flaw in the system that they do not charge according to the speeds you get. I have been paying for five or 10 years the same people do in London who get hundreds of megs. If you are not getting it you should not be paying for it.
“I think we know because we live in a lovely part of Norfolk we are at the bottom of the food chain.”

Derek Bailey owns the Home Farm Business Park at Marsham, and said his tenants become constantly frustrated with connection speeds.
“The nearest exchange is connected up to fibre but we are a good two or three miles away,” he said. “They tell us we will all be connected up by 2020 but that is three years time.
“We have people who want to expand and make their business more efficient, but because we are just off the beaten track it makes life difficult.”

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “As further funding becomes available coverage will increase towards an ultimate aim to achieve access for 100pc of Norfolk properties.

“An important source of additional funding is the rebate provided from BT if take-up of services using the infrastructure that has been provided by Better Broadband for Norfolk is higher than expected. This funding will be re-invested to extend coverage.

“A combination of advances in technology and different types of technology are also expected to be help provide coverage for the final 5pc.”

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