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Pressure mounts for faster broadband

Tuesday, 12th January 2010.

An on-line poll has opened for Suffolk residents to call for faster broadband to stop the county falling behind economically.

Suffolk County Council is appealing to the public to vote urgently online for Suffolk to receive a broadband grant to help speed up online access and to ensure people are not disadvantaged in comparison to those in neighbouring counties.

Despite the commitment of central Government funding to provide next generation broadband access identified in the Digital Britain Carter report, launched earlier this year, it is unlikely to impact or even reach Suffolk due to the current poor online infrastructure.

This will have an increasingly serious impact on business growth, sustainability and the rural economy as many parts of the county are unable to access the Government recommended broadband speed of 2mb.

It would also disadvantage school pupils, teachers and students or workers wanting to work remotely online at home and advancing a sustainable economy.

Living in rural Suffolk and the East of England could become the watchword for inequality if broadband action is not taken, the council says.

But a chance hs arisen for Suffolk to receive funding from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).

To make sure Suffolk is in with a fighting chance of receiving some of those funds the county council has galvanised support from a partnership made up of public agencies, business bodies and voluntary organisations.

A faster broadband service could mean future advancements in public services which could reduce costs as well.

These services could include e-commerce, online healthcare, e-education and video streaming or conferencing. In practice, those people with faster broadband do not have delay when they click onto a website.

The Suffolk Broadband partnership needs the publicís support in making the case for faster broadband for Suffolk and EEDA has set up a new website for businesses, organisations and the general public to vote and register their needs.

The council has made it easy for people to access the voting page. By clicking on www.suffolk.gov.uk and then on Speed up Suffolk you can let EEDA know why itís important for your computers to get faster.

EEDA will be most interested in messages from people who explain how their businesses, work, education, community centres, public services would improve as a result and even better if you can say how much faster it needs to be.

All Suffolk libraries have public internet access for those without internet access at home and you can use those to vote.

Cllr Bruce Provan, Suffolk's portfolio holder for economic development and skills, said: ďMy key priorities include giving Suffolk businesses, social enterprises and skill centres the competitive edge by providing the best economic development and skills services.

"That goal will be better achieved if everyone in the county chooses to vote for faster broadband on the EEDA website to help persuade funding decision-makers that our need is as great, if not greater than the rest of the East of England.

"Faster broadband could have a huge impact on county life as pupils, businesses, communities, families and public services will be free of any social or competitive disadvantage online, which should help drive the regional economy forward.Ē

The Suffolk Broadband partners are Suffolk County Council, Suffolk ACRE, BT, Countryland & Business Association, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce & Trade, Choose Suffolk, Federation of Small Business and the Haven Gateway Partnership.

Funding from EEDA is worth £5M in the East of England region sourced from the England Rural Development Programme.

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