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Chamber wants to see broadband speeds 10 times higher by 2020

PUBLISHED: 11:32 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:32 09 January 2018

Nick Burfield, policy director at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Nick Burfield, policy director at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Suffolk’s Chamber of Commerce says the Government has not been ambitious enough with its plans for superfast broadband in the county – and want to see download speeds 10 times as fast by the end of the decade.

Nick Burfield, the chamber’s policy director, said slow Internet speeds and mobile ‘not spots’ were holding businesses back in Suffolk and urged the Government to set its sights higher.

It comes as the chamber issues its new manifesto, setting out the priorities it will be campaigning for over the next three years.

He said: “There isn’t a meeting where it doesn’t come up.

“On broadband, our view is that the Government’s Universal Service Obligation, which is for 10Mbps download speeds, is not enough. Our position is we should be targeting 100Mbps everywhere by the end of the decade. That is, maybe, not realistic but that is what we should be aiming for.”

Mr Burfield praised the efforts of Suffolk County Council in the progress made in its Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign, saying high speeds were hugely important for small and medium-sized businesses in the county.

He said: “Unless we have 100 per cent high speed coverage the gains won’t be felt as they will always have to have a back up paper system in place.

“You won’t get the economic benefits unless you have high speeds. The Government should be committed to that; more resources would close the gap.

“Broadband speeds affect a lot of small business in areas, creative businesses that need the high speeds, those that work from home – they need comprehensive cover. Our view on mobile coverage is very much the same – let’s have 100 per cent coverage.”

The chamber’s manifesto also focuses on three main issues, reducing unnecessary regulations for business, improving access to markets and giving businesses the tools to do the job.

It wants to see progress in local procurement opportunities, better transport and road infrastructure and sharpening how Suffolk is viewed by the rest of the country.

John Dugmore, chief executive, added: “Suffolk Chamber believes that the potential future for the county is one characterised by an innovative, internationally successful and diverse economy, high value and high waged jobs and a strong education sector delivering a skills base that is as good as any in the country.”

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