The Better Broadband for Suffolk programme started in 2010, when at that point there had been several commercial broadband upgrades in Suffolk.
However, these services were generally constrained to Suffolk’s urban areas, and there wasn’t a commercial business case for upgrades for around a half of Suffolk - and this is where the programme started from.
The programme receives public funding to make fibre broadband available in areas that are not expected to be covered by commercial upgrades.
The funding is from:
Suffolk County Council
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP)
and other local councils
Openreach are contracted to deliver the work.
Under the government’s "Superfast Extension Programme", we now have a contract in place for Openreach to extend fibre broadband coverage to 98% of all Suffolk premises by 2020. Beyond this, we are committed to reaching 100% superfast broadband coverage in Suffolk as quickly as possible.
The Better Broadband for Suffolk Programme is directed by a contract management board composed of Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Broadband, supported by senior officers, and senior executives from BT Openreach.
The Programme is informed and supported by a Stakeholder Board, bringing together key stakeholders from:
- Suffolk County Council
- the Federation of Small Businesses
- Suffolk Chamber of Commerce
- Community Action Suffolk (CAS)
- the Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC)
- Country Land and Business Association (CLA)
- Fram Farmers
- Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK)
- Suffolk ACRE
- and the district/borough councils within Suffolk
The Better Broadband for Suffolk scheme facilitates the availability of access to better broadband. It does not have any responsibility regarding the quality of service you receive from your broadband provider. In some cases, there are things that you can do in your home or business to improve your service. For more information about the steps you can take, please visit www.thinkbroadband.com/guides/broadband-speed.
If you have concerns around the service quality, contact your provider in the first instance. If you consider your concerns are not being addressed by your service provider, there are agencies you can contact, such as:
Yes. There are a number of official publications, these described some of the legal and procurement processes we have been through in order to deliver the programme, and are listed below:
Open Market Review, July 2018
- OMR document (PDF, 183KB)
- Map of Suffolk postcode centroids (PFD, 3MB)
- PSMA Standard Contractor Licence (WORD, 2MB)
Suffolk Reinvestment State Aid Consultation, April 2016
- Suffolk Reinvestment Public Consultation Document, 2016 (PDF, 156KB)
- Suffolk Reinvestment Coverage Map, 2016 (JPEG, 652KB)
- Suffolk Reinvestment Coverage Postcode List, 2016 (XLS, 70KB)
Suffolk Additional Procurement State Aid Consultation, April/May 2014
- Suffolk Better Broadband Programme State Aid Consultation Document (PDF,3.7KB)
- Suffolk Better Broadband Programme State Aid Open Market Review Request for Information (PDF 4KB)
- Suffolk Better Broadband Programme State Aid Maps (PDF, 3.15MB)
Suffolk Better Broadband Original Procurement documents, 2011/12
Suffolk State Aid Consultation, March 2012
- Suffolk Better Broadband Programme State Aid Public Consultation Full Version (PDF, 923KB)
- Suffolk Better Broadband Programme State Aid Public Consultation Summary Version (PDF, 923KB)
Suffolk Intervention Area, March 2012
- Basic Broadband Intervention Area as at Invitation to Tender launch July 2012 (PDF, 1.1MB)
- Next Generation Broadband Intervention Area as at Invitation to Tender launch July 2012 (PDF, 1.25MB)
Suffolk Local Broadband Plan, 2011
- Suffolk Local Broadband Plan BDUK Approved Version Nov 2011 (PDF, 1MB)
- Suffolk Local Broadband Plan Summary (PDF, 212KB)
The aim of the programme is to achieve the best long-term broadband coverage for the whole county.
Openreach are contracted to manage the roll-out of the fibre broadband, and the current contract requires them to connect a set number of premises by 2020, which would bring Suffolk to a coverage rate of 98%.
It's not possible with a programme of this size to reach all areas at the same time so some areas will be enabled before others. We fully understand people's frustration and the huge importance of fibre broadband and we will keep you regularly updated as our plans evolve. The project will tackle a range of areas at the same time, including geographically challenging and easier coverage areas across Suffolk.
Overall, we are focused on ensuring the roll-out is as efficient as possible, in order to meet our 98% coverage rate for the end of 2020, and the eventual coverage of all Suffolk premises as soon as this is achievable.
Planning a roll-out of fibre broadband on this scale takes into account many factors including local demographics, geography, planning requirements and the existing engineering infrastructure. With a programme of this size, it’s not possible to plan everything at the same time so some areas will be enabled before others. Engineering plans and delivery timescales depend on factors such as planning applications, the provision of electricity to the new roadside cabinets and even local nature and the weather.
The aim of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme is to achieve the best possible long-term broadband coverage for the county within the resources available.
The rollout takes into account many factors including local demographics and geography, planning requirements, the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service and the existing engineering infrastructure. Neighbouring communities may be served from different telephone exchanges which in turn can have different levels of existing fibre capacity. This may result in staggered deployment timescales even within a very localised area.
The deployment follows the most efficient path, giving the best value for money. No area has been scheduled in preference to any other.
Providing superfast broadband to an area requires a huge amount of engineering work, often with many miles of brand new underground fibre cable being installed. Building the new cabinet itself is often the first activity that takes place, as it also needs to be connected to the fibre network, electricity supply and copper connections to the existing cabinet. This can take between six to nine months due to the complexity of the work being undertaken, which often requires road works and permission to work on private land – all of which required additional time. Even once fully connected, it needs to be tested rigorously by Openreach engineers.
We work as hard and as quickly as we can to connect people, but given the amount of work that needs to be done, it often takes some months between the appearance of a new cabinet and residents and businesses being able to take out a superfast broadband contract.
When a cabinet is installed Openreach know how many properties will be connected to it and make an assumption about how many available connections will be taken up. If the take-up is higher than anticipated then Openreach will look to increase capacity by installing new connections cards into the cabinet.
Openreach actively monitor each cabinet and will automatically order the new cards, so that in many cases the upgrade will happen before the cabinet reaches capacity. On occasion, however, take-up is not only higher than expected but also happens very quickly, so that the cabinet reaches capacity and there is a short delay before more orders can be taken.
There are many factors that influence a cabinet’s location. These include, for example, access to mains power, the proximity of the fibre spine that will need to be extended to support the connectivity of the cabinet and taking into account that all existing distribution points are included.
The delivery of fibre broadband is a complex engineering task, which is why there are different solutions for different areas. Some areas are served by more than one cabinet and /or exchange, which may be upgraded at different times.
Each area may have different types of fibre (such as FTTC and FTTP) and some will take longer than others to plan and deliver.
It is the responsibility of the developer to contact Openreach (or other infrastructure providers) before the development has begun to contract for the provision of fibre broadband into the new housing or business development.
Your first step should be to contact the developer – if you need further advice, please contact the Better Broadband team:
If you live in an area where there is no fibre broadband upgrade planned, or if an upgrade will take more than a year, there are interim solutions as well as community self-help options available. Funding is also available towards these solutions:
- Read more in our alternative solutions page
If your premise has access to fibre broadband, you will need to order a fibre broadband service from a broadband provider.
There are a number of providers to choose from; most of these also offer bundles where you get phone, broadband and TV all for a fixed monthly fee. There are various comparison sites available to help you choose the best provider for you.
Once you have signed up, your retail service provider will arrange for an installation of your connection, and probably provide you with a wireless router, so you can access your internet via an Ethernet cable, or via roaming wirelessly around your house.
No - to get fibre broadband, you'll need to place an order with an Internet Service Provider. (ISP) This is because fibre broadband uses a different technology (e.g. fibre optic) and an engineer will need to visit your premises to install the necessary equipment.
There are several ISPs offering fibre broadband packages, so you can shop around and choose the package that's best for you. If you decide not to upgrade to fibre broadband, you'll be able to continue using your existing broadband service as normal.
Fibre broadband is the second generation of broadband and is much faster, more reliable and uses a different technology than standard first-generation broadband.
Whilst traditional broadband is delivered via copper telephone lines, fibre broadband uses fibre optic cables. The speed and extent of the transformation enabled by better broadband has been remarkable, and much has been achieved over recent years, both nationally and in Suffolk.
Fibre broadband can be delivered in two ways from the exchange: Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).
Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)
FTTC uses fibre-optic cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet. It then uses existing copper wires to connect the cabinet to homes and businesses. FTTC provides download speeds up to 80mbps and upload speeds up to 20mbps, which are then offered as different service packages by retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Most of the fibre broadband in Suffolk will be of this type.
The speed delivered to your home is dependent on its distance from the cabinet. The further your home is from the cabinet, the lower the speed you can get. This is because the last part of the Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) service uses the copper telephone line into your home. The copper line needs to be less than 1.2km long to deliver “superfast” speeds (24Mbps or more).
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
FTTP means fibre-optic cables run from the exchange right to the door of each house or business. It provides download speeds up to 330mbps and upload speeds up to 30mbps, again offered as different service packages by ISPs.
Mbps means Megabits per second – it’s the way that internet speeds are measured. One bit means one piece of basic information and one megabit is a million bits of information. The higher the number of Mbps you are able to download each second, the faster your connection.
For more information about broadband speeds, and what can affect them, please visit www.thinkbroadband.com/guides/broadband-speed