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Norfolk has been selected as the location for the UK's first Fast Start broadband initiative, it has been revealed.

A new approach to the rollout of super-fast broadband is being tested in the county, with representatives from all stakeholders in the process convening at the start.

This is designed to help identify any problems or concerns parties may have about the rollout of broadband services across Norfolk.

The teams responsible for project delivery will focus on planning, highways and power issues in order to speed up implementation.

In particular, they will look at powering super-fast cabinets, prioritising streetworks, creating a deployment-friendly planning regime, and facilitating overhead lines and access to existing buildings and new developments.

Norfolk has been selected to pilot the Fast Start scheme as it is one of the first areas in the UK to procure its wholesale rural broadband infrastructure contract.

The £41 million agreement between Norfolk County Council and BT aims to nearly double the number of Norfolk homes and businesses able to access super-fast broadband within three years.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey noted that the county is "on track" to double access to super-fast broadband for homes and businesses.

"By having these discussions now, we can help ensure that the people of Norfolk will receive all the benefits that super-fast broadband has to offer at the very earliest opportunity," he stated.

Ann Steward, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Norfolk County Council, said there is "a real commitment" from everyone involved in the project to get Norfolk's broadband networks upgraded and provide faster services as soon as possible.

She said the Fast Start meeting offered an opportunity to go over the plans with BT and central government representatives in detail, ensuring any potential barriers to getting the on-the-ground installation work underway can be acted on now.

"We were very pleased that the Communications Minister could join us; it was extremely helpful to have central government input, and this meeting helps puts Norfolk in the best possible position so that people living and working here can start to benefit at the earliest opportunity," Ms Steward noted.

Bill Murphy, Managing Director for Next-Generation Access at BT, claimed that the rollout of fibre broadband across a large, rural terrain is "a complex engineering and logistical challenge".

"Collaborative working is key to understanding and overcoming the challenges associated with a project of this scale, and the government's Fast Start initiative is an important step forward in moving Norfolk into the broadband fast lane without delay," he stated.

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