A fast and reliable broadband connection is a crucial part of modern infrastructure.
The Covid pandemic and restrictions have shown us how reliant we all are on reliable internet connections for remote learning, to access GPs and other public services, to work from home and run businesses, access public services, as well as to stay in touch with friends and family.
Too many parts of North West Norfolk are still burdened by slow connections, and James has made it one of his priorities to ensure the constituency benefits from government ambitions to level up broadband speeds. Government-funded projects will prioritise areas that currently have slow connections and which would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ rollout plans.
Over the past few years, Norfolk County Council and BT have been working hard to get as many homes and businesses connected to better broadband as possible. And while Norfolk is getting faster, there is more work to do.
The average download speed in North West Norfolk is 41.8 Mbps. It is good news that 92% of residents and businesses can access superfast Broadband, however, this is below the UK average of 94.9%. Average access to gigabit availability is only 3.2%.
In addition, as many as 11% of premises are receiving speeds under 10 Mbps. If you can’t get a download speed of 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of 1 Mbit/s, you can request an upgraded connection and details of how to do so are available here
More than one million hard to reach homes and businesses will have next generation gigabit broadband built to them in the first phase of a £5 billion government "Project Gigabit."
Available speeds will increase to more than 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second. It means families no longer having to battle over bandwidth and will give people in rural areas the freedom to live and work more flexibly. Contracts for these first areas will go to tender in the spring with spades in the ground in the first half of 2022.
The government programme is in addition to proposed commercial rollout and James has been speaking to Openreach and other providers about their plans for North West Norfolk inclduing in King's Lynn and Hunstanton.
In June 2021 the government expects to announce the next procurements to connect up to 140,000 premises in Norfolk as part of Project Gigabit along with vouchers, and connecting public sector buildings.
James said -
"Improving broadband speeds is an issue I have campaigned on so I am pleased that Norfolk will benefit from the early phase of the rollout. Now I will be working to ensure North West Norfolk benefits from this welcome investment."
The successful Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is also being relaunched with up to £210 million to give people in eligible rural areas immediate financial help to get gigabit speeds. The new vouchers worth up to £1,500 for residents and up to £3,500 for businesses went live on 8 April 2021 and mean that rural areas will not have to wait for supplier contracts under Project Gigabit to reach them. Details on how to apply are available here
On top of this the government is making up to £110 million available to connect public sector buildings - such as GP surgeries, libraries and schools - in the hardest to reach parts of the UK with this infrastructure.
Details on the Project Gigabit programme are available here.
Fibre First by Openreach
Fibre First is the largest UK-wide deployment and is in addition to existing coverage or planned works within the Community Fibre Partnerships (using DCMS vouchers) and other government-funded programmes.
The works will take place between now and December 2026. Specific details about locations will become available in due course but planning work has started.
Everyone can use the ‘where and when’ mapping tool on the Openreach website to view a map of plans in your local area like below.