News story

Norfolk to pilot 'Fast Start' approach to nationwide broadband roll-out

Norfolk has been selected to pioneer a new approach to the roll out of superfast broadband.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

This will help ensure the smooth delivery of the county’s broadband scheme.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey will visit County Hall in Norwich today (Thursday, 24 January) to meet with representatives from Norfolk County Council and BT and attend the first ‘Fast Start’ initiative meeting in the UK.

With the nationwide roll-out of superfast broadband already well under way, Government, Local Authorities and suppliers are keen to ensure that delivery is not hampered by any complications that may arise at individual locations. The “Fast Start” initiative will see local representatives from all parties involved in the roll-out convene at the very beginning of the process, identify any concerns and agree a course of action.

This strong scrutiny by the teams responsible for delivery will focus on planning, highways and power issues in order to speed implementation, in particular:

  • powering superfast cabinets;
  • prioritising streetworks;
  • creating a deployment friendly planning regime; and
  • facilitating overhead lines and access to existing buildings and new development

The benefits of this new approach to the Norfolk pilot should become rapidly apparent, and the Government will then look to adopt this scheme throughout the UK.

Norfolk has been selected to pilot the 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 superfast broadband within three years.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Norfolk is on track to double access to superfast broadband for homes and businesses, and by having these discussions now, we can help ensure that the people of Norfolk will receive all the benefits that superfast broadband has to offer at the very earliest opportunity.”

Ann Steward, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Norfolk County Council, said: “There is a real commitment from everyone involved in this project to get Norfolk’s broadband networks upgraded and provide faster services as soon as possible.This morning’s meeting gave us an opportunity to go over the plans with BT and central Government representatives in detail and ensure 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.”

Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Access, BT Group, said: “Rolling out 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.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The agreement between Norfolk and BT was announced in December 2012.

  2. More details on the Norfolk superfast broadband roll-out is available at the Say Yes to better broadband website. 

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Published 24 January 2013