County News: New broadband pilot for West Sussex

A NEW £225,000 pilot scheme to improve rural broadband in West Sussex was launched at a digital access summit in Midhurst today (Friday, November 20).

Ed Vaizey (Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy) speaking at the Digital Summit
Ed Vaizey (Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy) speaking at the Digital Summit

The summit was convened by Arundel South Downs MP Nick Herbert and hosted by the South Downs National Park Authority.

Attending the summit, digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey hailed the new pilot ‘fantastic news for businesses in West Sussex’.

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He added: “Government is already investing more than £8m to take superfast broadband to around 50,000 more premises in the county and this extra funding will help even more local business benefit from all that superfast speeds have to offer.”

The new West Sussex scheme will support superfast connection for groups of businesses not planned for inclusion in either the commercial or publicly funded rollouts of broadband infrastructure.

Nick Herbert told the summit: “Today good broadband is a necessity, not a luxury and people living and working in rural areas like the South Downs need it too.”

Business estates or clusters in West Sussex have from November 30 to January 15 next year to apply to the new digital Connectivity Grant Programme which will provide up to 40 per cent of the cost of getting connected.

The funding comes from Coast to Capital’s Local Growth Deal under their ‘Growth is Digital’ key project.

To be eligible they must not have current access to broadband services or be included in the planned delivery of broadband by Better Connected the West Sussex County Council, BT and government partnership.

The summit today brought together MPs, councillors, officials and businesses from across the South Downs National Park in a bid to close the ‘digital divide’ in rural areas where people cannot access superfast broadband and have poor mobile network coverage.

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