A multimillion pound contract to bring faster broadband speeds to thousands of homes and businesses in East Sussex has been signed with BT.
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 county council is investing £15m in the project while £10.64m is coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK funds. BT, chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process, is contributing £9.8m to the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas.
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.
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.
The new technology can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps.
An ultra-fast option delivering wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint should local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers.
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.”
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said the plans will see 96 per cent of properties benefiting from all the benefits superfast speeds have to offer.