A £multi-million 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 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 fewer 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 under way 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.”