Thousands of businesses and families in the east of East Sussex will be upgraded to faster broadband within six months.
The County Council announced this week that construction work for the ‘e-Sussex’ project is now underway. Survey work is being carried out and the first major part of the new network - new fibre ‘spines’ or backbones - is now being installed.
People living and working in Heathfield, Hadlow Down and Mayfield will also notice new green roadside cabinets which have been built ready for connection. More will follow shortly.
Heathfield, Burwash, Etchingham, Hadlow Down, Horam, Mayfield, Robertsbridge, Rotherfield, Rushlake Green and surrounding areas should soon be able to take advantage of better internet access.
Local county councillor and lead member for economy, Cllr Rupert Simmons said: “This is one of the top economic development projects for this authority and we are delighted that work on the ground has well and truly started. Residents and businesses are now a step closer to our vision of a fully connected county.”
Peter Cowen, BT’s regional partnership director, said: “This is great news for East Sussex. Fibre broadband opens new horizons and helps us to be more efficient, keeping us in touch with vital services. Local businesses also have the opportunity to grow, attracting investment and boosting the local economy.”
Deborah Lefort, who runs Waldron Stores, and her husband Paul, landlord of The Star in Waldron, both welcome improved broadband. Deborah said: “At present connection comes and goes. Good broadband is vital to us and we welcome this announcement with open arms.”
Alan Staples, from Heathfield accountants Manningtons, said: “Good broadband is critical for businesses and families where students work more and more online. Properties in country areas which have poor broadband connections cannot be sold or let.
“Many people run small businesses from their homes and they are severely affected. The Heathfield exchange is out of date and there was no likelihood of improvement. Any connection must be reliable and not corrupted at any time.”
Chris Macklin, from Trading4U, agreed. He told the Express: “Both the High Street and surrounding areas are badly affected by poor connections. Many small business people are badly affected and uncompetitive as a result.”