Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described Surrey County Council as being “ahead of the game” nationally with its superfast broadband plans.
Surrey aims to ensure a 100% high-quality broadband service across the county by 2013.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport praised the county council at an event to outline the benefits of superfast broadband to businesses, community leaders and residents.
Mr Hunt said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Surrey County Council has really been ahead of the national picture.”
He added: “They have a very ambitious objective and they completely got ahead of the game on this.”
The national aim is for everyone to have superfast broadband by 2015.
Mr Hunt was joined at the event in Haslemere by Surrey County Council leader Dr Andrew Povey.
Dr Povey said: “It’s all about Surrey as a place being in the lead, doing our best for residents and, I think, being the trail-blazer for the rest of the country.”
He urged residents and businesses to support the superfast broadband drive. The county council has just launched online surveys designed to find out the areas in Surrey that receive a poor broadband service.
Dr Povey said: “We know already that there are groups – I know of Ewhurst and some other villages – that have been very strong in terms of their campaigning to get broadband for their particular villages and communities. I think we’d say please redouble your efforts but perhaps through the ‘Superfast Surrey’ website.”
The county council is in the process of selecting a company to provide superfast broadband for up to 20% of Surrey residents and businesses – around 100,000 premises – not included in BT’s current plans to roll out the service nationally.*
Superfast broadband benefits include users being able to send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly. A music album can be downloaded within 30 seconds and a feature length movie in about five minutes.
The video of the event can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uwckz4boKo.
* For the Surrey Strategic Partnership, which includes the county, borough and district councils, the Surrey County Association of Parish and Town Councils, Surrey Police, NHS Surrey and the voluntary and business sectors.