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BT boss defends company's commitment to broadband in Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 10:09 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:06 01 August 2010

BT executive Peter McCarthy-Ward, who has defended the his company's commitment to broadband in the region. Picture: James Bass.

BT executive Peter McCarthy-Ward, who has defended the his company's commitment to broadband in the region. Picture: James Bass.

Jon Welch

A senior BT executive has defended the company's commitment to broadband in Norfolk and Suffolk and denied the two counties had been excluded from plans for superfast connections.

A senior BT executive has defended the company's commitment to broadband in Norfolk and Suffolk and denied the two counties had been excluded from plans for superfast connections.

Peter McCarthy-Ward, East of England director for the communications giant, said making a case for better broadband connections in the region was a priority for him.

He was speaking after business and council leaders reacted with disbelief to the news that 63 telephone exchanges set for upgrade to offer broadband speeds of up to 40 megabits per second (Mbps) this summer did not include any in Norfolk or Suffolk.

They claimed slow broadband speeds would jeopardise job creation and investment in the region.

Mr McCarthy-Ward said: “No organisation has done more than BT to make 'Broadband Britain' a reality, and thanks to the company's multi-million pound investment, more than 99 per cent of homes and businesses in the East of England and across the UK can access broadband through their telephone exchange.

“The UK has some of the keenest prices for broadband in the world and, as a result, some 61pc of homes now take broadband, a level of adoption well ahead of many other nations, including France, Italy and Spain.

“BT continues to modernise and improve its broadband services. There are two major investment programmes underway. We are increasing the broadband speed offered by many of our exchanges from up to 8 Mbps to up to 24Mbps.”

He said BT had now invested in upgrades to Norwich Central, Norwich North, Norwich Thorpe and King's Lynn exchanges and would upgrade Norwich West by the end of March.

But he acknowledged slow connection speeds were still a problem for some broadband users in the county.

“BT also recognises that a particular issue for Norfolk customers is the difficulty some customers living a long distance from their telephone have in getting a reasonable broadband service,” he said.

“We have developed a possible solution to this problem, which is currently being tested in Wymondham.

“Second, BT has announced a massive £1.5 billion investment to bring super-fast fibre-based broadband to 10 million homes and businesses by 2012. This is still at an early stage, with only around a quarter of locations to be covered yet announced.

“It is clearly premature to conclude that any area of the country has been 'excluded'. Making a compelling case for Norfolk and Suffolk exchanges to be included in future deployments remains a priority for me.”

Mr McCarthy-Ward acknowledged the importance of broadband to local and regional economies, adding: “Norfolk is getting significant investment from BT and will continue to do so.”

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