East Sussex county council clinches deal for £35.44 million project to bring fibre broadband to 66,500 rural homes and businesses
High speed broadband boost for county named among top 10 for business 1
A multimillion pound contract to bring faster broadband speeds to thousands of homes and businesses in East Sussex was signed with BT today (Friday, 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 .”
Note to the editors:
Engineers for Openreach, BT’s local network business, will build the new fibre infrastructure. Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. This can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering ultra-fast 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 2 .
The new fibre-based network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis 3 .There are more than 80 communications providers currently offering or using fibre services over BT’s network. Households and businesses in the “e-Sussex” broadband project area will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.
Superfast broadband benefits include users being able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. New fibre services are set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available on-line.
For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become a viable possibility
About the e-Sussex project
The UK Government ambition is to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a unit within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is responsible for managing the Government’s broadband funding. BDUK has developed a procurement framework and the ‘e-Sussex’ project team has secured a private delivery partner through this framework. More information is available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website.
The “e-Sussex” project has had to comply with stringent European Commission State Aid regulations to use public money to fund the commercial market place to provide superfast broadband services.
The “e-Sussex” project will not physically connect users to the improved broadband service but will provide the technology through which residents and businesses can contract with suppliers to buy broadband services, in the usual way.
Wholesale access means that BT must make its broadband infrastructure available to Internet Service Providers to market a range of competitive packages to customers.
East Sussex received one of the top 10 highest allocations in the country to provide faster broadband.
1 East Sussex was named by the government as among the top 10 authorities in the country with which to do business with. Winning authorities, selected by a panel including industry experts and local and central government representatives, were praised for helping smaller businesses by introducing innovative procurement practices.
2 80Mbps and 330Mbps are wholesale speeds. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP. Openreach has started to make FTTP on demand available in its fibre footprint. Openreach will levy an installation charge but it will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that onto businesses or consumers wishing to take advantage of the product.
3 Openreach provides external CPs (Communications Providers) with a variety of ways in which they can offer fibre broadband to their customers. These include an ‘active’ product – GEA – which comes in various speed combinations and a ‘passive’ product – PIA – whereby CPs can lay their own fibre via BT’s ducts and poles if they want greater control over the service they offer.