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Organisers of Norfolk's superfast broadband rollout claim the first part of the scheme has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Phase one of the Better Broadband for Norfolk (BBfN) programme, a partnership between Norfolk County Council and BT, was expected to finish in December 2015, but has been completed ahead of time reaching more premises than previously expected.

The project has given 185,885 homes access to fibre-based broadband since its launch in December 2012.

The number of people across the county with access to superfast broadband has nearly doubled from 43% in 2012 to over than 80%.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement that we’ve delivered this contract early and under budget, but most importantly, we’ve made superfast broadband available to more homes and businesses than we originally planned.

“This demonstrates the strength of the partnership between BT and Norfolk County Council, as well as the determination of the people working on the programme, and we’ll continue working well together to deliver the next stages of the rollout to reach even more properties.

“When BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme is also included, it means that 357,000 Norfolk homes and businesses now have access to this exciting technology.”

Coverage should increase even further by March 2016, with faster broadband services made available to new areas as part of the second phase of the BBfN programme - a £17.9 million deal between Norfolk County Council and BT.

It comes as part of plans to take fibre coverage in the county to 90%, with Norfolk's five district councils have committed a further £7 million of funding, while £5.3 million has been made available by BT.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “Improving the broadband reach across the county is absolutely vital to our twin ambitions of improving infrastructure and creating real jobs."

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