Ed Vaizey to speak at high-profile broadband conference in Waveney

BUSINESS leaders in Waveney have welcomed the news that a conference is to be held to discuss ideas to improve broadband services in Suffolk.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous announced this week that he had organised the event for next month and that communications minister Ed Vaizey would be giving the keynote speech.

The conference will take place in either Beccles or Bungay on April 6 and will feature a speech from Mr Vaizey, who is responsible for delivering the government's vision for superfast broadband.

At present, firms and householders in parts of Waveney suffer from very poor or intermittent Broadband coverage – particularly in rural parts of the district – and there have been frequent complaints that this is acting as a major obstacle to business.

News of the conference was welcomed yesterday by James Reeder, vice-president of Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce, who is keen to see services improved.

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He said: 'Anything that we can do to raise awareness, put our case forward and then hopefully get action is to be encouraged. It is now up to businesses and business organisations to put a very robust case to them.'

Broadband speeds in the area have been a hotly debated topic, with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce adding its support to Choose Suffolk's 'I'm Backing Better Broadband for Suffolk' campaign.

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Last month, Mr Aldous also released a map showing how large swathes of Waveney with poor broadband access would need financial or practical assistance to improve the current level of coverage.

Next month the bidding process for funding from Broadband UK opens and Mr Aldous is hoping that the conference will offer the major providers an opportunity to outline what services they will be offering to certain areas in Suffolk and when.

It will also bring together people from across the local community to discuss issues specific to Waveney and Suffolk in achieving high, reliable broadband connectivity.

He said: 'Broadband is absolutely central to the economic growth of our region enabling businesses to operate from remote locations and ensuring local people can access services from home.'

Mr Aldous will also be inviting partners from Choose Suffolk's broadband campaign as well as other organisations preparing bids for government or European funding to present their proposals.

He said: 'I have decided to organise this high-profile event to give those drafting proposals for funding as well as the various suppliers of different technologies and solutions an opportunity to make their case and stimulate debate. The aim is to help ensure that all areas of Waveney, not just those most commercially viable, are reached.'

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