Community leaders are urging residents in Sudbury to back proposals to build a new full-fibre network unveiled by County Broadband which aims to transform the town’s digital connectivity into one of the most fastest and reliable in the UK.
Around 8,000 homes are earmarked to receive the service and have been added to the community provider’s growing rollout of its new gigabit-capable digital infrastructure across rural East Anglia. The local project is being backed by a £46 million private investment from Aviva Investors.
The announcement comes after the UK fell 13 places in global rankings for internet speeds and is now among the slowest in Europe in 47th place, new research found. The Hyperfast network would replace the current part-copper Superfast FTTC infrastructure (fibre-to-the-cabinet) that dates back to the Victorian times with FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises).
The new network will deliver improved reliability and provide speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps initially – nearly 20 times faster than the UK average – upgradable to over 10,000 Mbps in the future. The FTTP infrastructure could be built and operational by spring 2022.
Neighbouring villages Belchamp Otten, Belchamp St. Paul and Belchamp Walter approved the plans for their communities and had the network built earlier this year. In total, over 100 villages in north-east Essex, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk are earmarked in the rollout.
Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said: “We would like to work with the people of Sudbury to build our brand new, full-fibre network, that will provide the town with much needed reliable and faster broadband speeds now, and equip them for whatever the future brings.
“One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us is just how important a dependable broadband connection is and the urgent need for a faster, more reliable broadband service at home.
“We are already well underway with dozens of similar projects in rural areas around Sudbury – and we are now looking forward to extending our full-fibre service to residents of the town itself, bringing affordable, lightning fast broadband services to residents and businesses. We’re asking people to register their interest online to help how we plan and prioritise bringing real full-fibre broadband to the town.
“Over the next few weeks we will be hosting a series of online events with residents to answer questions about the project and will be working with the local authorities to provide more information about the service.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson is relying on local providers like County Broadband to achieve his flagship target of UK-wide gigabit-speed connectivity by 2025. It forms part of his “infrastructure revolution” to catch up with the rest of the world and support the Covid-19 economic recovery. The news also follows fresh government advice to work from home until next spring.
The deployment of full-fibre broadband could be worth £5.38bn to the East of England economy over the next five years, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Ciaran Griffin, Town Clerk at Sudbury Town Council, said: “Sudbury Town Council is delighted to see that we will be one of the UK’s top performers for broadband speed and reliability. Covid-19 is forcing rapid changes, with many more residents working from home and local businesses building e-commerce platforms to support their high street presence. This world-class digital infrastructure will be vital to attract new business to Sudbury, helping the recovery and building resilience for the future.”
A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: “This is great news for the people and businesses of Sudbury. Full-fibre broadband is the next step in Suffolk in further improving and future-proofing our connection speeds. In future, it will open up many more opportunities for connecting with family and friends and driving business productivity.”
Dr Peter Funnell, Chair of Suffolk Chamber in Central Suffolk: "What excellent news! This considerable investment will be welcomed by both businesses and residents in Sudbury. One of Suffolk Chamber in Central Suffolk’s manifesto objectives is to work with and encourage partners such as County Broadband to deliver world-beating broadband infrastructure. This initiative is, therefore, a major step forward for the local area. We look forward to other parts of Babergh and Mid Suffolk benefiting from full-fibre broadband in the near future."
Penny Morgan, Development Manager and Area Lead, FSB East Anglia, said: “Poor digital infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, has been a long-standing issue for local companies. Therefore this is great news for small businesses in East Anglia. The FSB have lobbied hard for better digital connectivity and infrastructure to help local firms facilitate and grow their businesses in the area. This will be welcome news to many businesses and individuals in East Anglia.”
Residents can visit http://www.sudbury.countybroadband.co.uk to register their interest in the project which will enable County Broadband to plan and prioritise the rollout of its service.