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BT has signed a deal to roll out super-fast broadband infrastructure in Suffolk, as the local authority aims to increase digital participation.

Suffolk County Council and BT have signed a contract under the government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, and Openreach will now begin surveying locations in the region.

Within just three years, around nine out of ten Suffolk properties are expected to have access to a fibre-based broadband service.

And every business and household should be able to download at a rate of up to 2Mb.

Councillor Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council’s leader and chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme board, said that when the authority launched the campaign it wanted to ensure everyone who lives and works in the county benefits.

"I’m proud to say that, with BT, we aim to deliver exactly that," he stated.

"Improving access to broadband is going to help Suffolk’s economy grow by as much as 20 per cent and create up to 5,000 new jobs."

Cllr Bee said there is a digital divide between Suffolk and the rest of the country but an even more acute disparity between urban and rural Suffolk.

"The Better Broadband programme is going to close those gaps, boost school attainment and help the public sector to deliver services more efficiently and cheaply," he claimed.

The Councillor said he was "delighted" that Suffolk has come such a long way in such a short space of time, noting that broadband within the county will be unrecognisable within three years.

Bill Murphy, Managing Director of Next-Generation Access at BT, said Suffolk is ambitious for economic growth and higher-speed broadband services are crucial for delivering that.

Enhanced online services will help to retain and grow small businesses, provide access to a global online market for entertainment and business opportunities, and create jobs, he said.

“Fibre broadband will bring Suffolk’s predominantly rural economy into the digital fast lane – revitalising small towns, villages and hamlets," Mr Murphy stated.

It will make it possible to start and run a connected business from these locations and in the long-term, ensuring local people don’t suffer from a digital divide, he claimed.

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