31 May 2013

High speed broadband boost for county

A multimillion pound contract to bring faster broadband speeds to thousands of homes and businesses in East Sussex was signed with BT on 31 May.

The ‘e-Sussex’ project, led by East Sussex County Council in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council, was launched to improve internet access for  homes and businesses that suffer from poor broadband speeds and, in some cases, no access at all to modern broadband.

The deal between BT and the County Council builds on BT’s on-going commercial fibre rollout and means that 96 per cent of homes and businesses in the county are expected to be able to access superfast broadband services (with speeds of at least 24Mbps and above) within the next three years.

The new fibre network will transform broadband speeds across the county and its rural areas. According to Ofcom in November 2012, the average downstream speed in East Sussex was 8.4Mbps whilst 11.7 per cent of premises received less than 2Mbps.

BT has been chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process. The company is contributing £9.8m towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas while East Sussex County Council is contributing £15m towards the project, with £10.64m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.

Cllr Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “It's absolutely vital this broadband technology is made available to all our residents and small businesses. We want everyone in East Sussex to have access to reliable and faster broadband within the next three years and I'm delighted by this announcement as it's a major step forward in the project.”

 “We know how many residents and businesses are frustrated by slow or no broadband access in East Sussex, especially in rural areas; it’s one of the biggest issues facing our county.”

“With the contract now signed, work on the project can get underway to bring the county up to speed with faster and more reliable broadband. This will give East Sussex the competitive edge it needs to attract new businesses and will empower our communities by providing access to services, jobs, education.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, added: “This is great news for East Sussex. Fibre broadband will provide a strong, reliable connection to the rest of the world – opening new horizons, helping us to be more efficient and keeping us in touch with vital services.

“Faster broadband will help local businesses grow, attracting inward investment and boosting the local economy. If they thrive then everyone thrives – local businesses are the lifeblood of every community, creating jobs and stimulating growth.”

Jason Kitcat, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “Having better, faster broadband in the city will support our growing digital media and creative sector as well as giving residents greater flexibility to use new technology for learning and entertainment. Improved and faster connectivity will unleash even more of our city’s and our region’s potential.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news for the people and businesses of East Sussex, Brighton and Hove. Widespread access to superfast broadband will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy and these plans will see 96 per cent of properties benefiting from all the benefits superfast speeds have to offer .”