A leading business manager has urged Diss to move “up the broadband ladder” sooner rather than later, despite assurances from a county council initiative that improved broadband would be in place in the town by this September.
The Better Broadband for Norfolk movement, jointly run by major Internet provider BT and Norfolk County Council, says it is committed to providing a minimum broadband speed of 2MBps to all of Norfolk before the end of 2015.
But Jon Shooter, the managing director at Sawmills Road-based rooflights manufacturer Glazing Vision, is campaigning for even speedier superfast connections to come to Diss, claiming that current broadband speeds are not good enough for businesses to run effectively.
Mr Shooter, who recently took over from retiring boss Chris Chaney, has been with the company for ten years. He said: “As a business, we need to keep up with the world.
“Our distributors and customers require quick response and communication from us and we need to be able to respond to this.
“We want to run our business more efficiently but we are constantly hampered by speed of access to data, whether web based or email exchange.”
Mr Shooter, formerly a sales and marketing director the company, states that broadband in Diss currently runs at around 1MBps, well below the average fixed-line speed of 17.8MBps for the UK. Superfast fibre optic broadband, which is found in many large metropolitan areas including Norwich, is said to give a minimum connection speed of around 24MBps and could go as high as 300MBps if premises are linked directly to an exchange via fibre cables.
According to Better Broadband for Norfolk, superior connections to the ones available now will be brought to ‘parts of Diss’ in the coming months, and superfast exchanges could actually be installed to cover around 80% of the county before the end of next year.
However, Norfolk County Council also stated that it had not specified the precise locations where improvements will happen or exactly when they would be put into place, and Mr Shooter indicated that certain sections of Diss could miss out and these connections might not be the superfast speeds of 24MBPs or greater that Glazing Visions was pushing for.
On BT’s Openreach website, Diss, as well as surrounding towns such as Harleston, is categorised as a ‘Future Exchange’ site, meaning that these places could receive superfast broadband at an unspecified date in the future, but they are currently considered lower priority areas.
“When it comes to Norfolk and logistics we need to be more vocal. Our road, rail and broadband network should be improved so that we can compete with other towns not only in the region but in the country,” Mr Shooter added.
Glazing Vision has written to South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon and urged other business, as well as local residents, to register their interest through BT Openreach and make a Diss a high-priority location for superfast Internet.
Judith Ward, chair of the Diss Business Forum, which is aiming to promote Glazing Vision’s campaign in its upcoming newsletter, said: “I think more or less everyone in business in Diss is desperate for it (better broadband) to come in.”