Businesses give their thumbs-up to Norfolk’s better broadband deal

Businesses large and small and campaigners for faster broadband have given the thumbs-up to the news that a contractor will soon get set to roll out faster speeds across Norfolk.

Norfolk County Council is poised to award a contract to BT to work as its partner in a multi-million deal to put superfast broadband services within more than 80pc of homes and businesses by 2015.

The news marks a resounding success for the Say Yes to Better Broadband Campaign backed by the EDP. And with faster speeds set to add �401m to Norfolk's economy during the next 10 years, the new services could not come fast enough.

Ali Cargill, from Cargill Farms, which supplies potatoes to Kettle Crisps, said the news would be great news for the business, based at Gimingham, near North Walsham.

'I will be delighted if the connection speeds are improved as promised,' he said. 'It will make a vast difference to how we do business and will certainly save us a lot of money and stand us in good stead against our competition nationwide.


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'I will certainly be looking closely to see if it reaches up here in North Norfolk and will be very disappointed if it doesn't.

'We download a lot of factory data, which we have to send out to our growers,' he added. 'We can't leave the computer, because if it crashes halfway through, which it does on a regular basis, it means our clients are only going to get half of the information through they need, so we have to re-send it, and that's costing us money and time.'

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Chris Zanone, general manager for information systems and development at Bernard Matthews, said: 'For major rural businesses like Bernard Matthews a fast and reliable broadband service is essential to our long term success in the county. For far too long we've had to struggle with inadequate and slow broadband speeds in the county, so this week's news heralds an exciting time for not just Bernard Matthews Farms but the whole business community in Norfolk.'

Duncan Cardwell, managing director of Proteo, a Norwich company specialising in cloud and mobile working technology, said: 'For businesses, internet connectivity today is a basic utility like water or electricity and they requires lots of it. This is a great first step and it will make a significant difference to many businesses. 'However, we still have a way to go to be truly competitive with other large cities so it is important that we are able to ensure the investment can continue.

'The main advantage of better bandwidth is connecting multiple offices or lots of mobile/remote workers into corporate systems. Mobile working in particular is where businesses can find further efficiency in the next few years. Increasingly, organisations are demanding greater flexibility from their workforces, involving more sophisticated devices – such as smartphones and tablet computers. They are expecting greater productivity from their workers when they are away from the office, wanting to connect them to head office workflow systems via mobile devices and suppliers and customers are placing greater demands on their systems, with email and document sharing more often than not taking the strain.

'As a result, it is important that we bring everyone up to a basic level of bandwidth, but it is crucial that we continue to invest in our infrastructure going forward.'

Paul Bowness, owner of Lucy's Tea Rooms in Burnham Market, said superfast broadband speeds would make a huge difference.

'It's just good news,' he said. 'We do everything online now. We have to fill in VAT forms online and all the banking and wages is done online. We order a lot of stuff online too.

'It's just going to make life so much easier than it has been so far. There's nothing worse than when you are halfway through something and it crashes. If I'm looking online for new products and that happens, I tend to give up.

'It costs me several hours a week, if you work that out at �10 an hour that's about �30 a week or �120 a month so it soon adds up

And it's not just businesses who stand to benefit.

Mark Farrar, principal at Reepham High School and College said that poor broadband was a problem for many of its 1050 pupils and faster sppeds would be excellent news for Norfolk.

'Some of our pupils are seriously disadvantaged by having very poor broadband connections,' he said. 'Even the school's broadband connection has been erratic this week. Anything the improves the situation will benefit the quality of the education that we can offer young people in our part of Norfolk

'Homework is set over the internet and those that haven't got good access to it are seriously disadvantaged. Our catchment area is enormous and in some areas it's pretty good but in others it's appalling.'

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