West Sussex Better Connected project reaches more than 15,000 homes and businesses

Next communities to benefit include Birdham, Bracklesham Bay, Burgess Hill, Crawley, Eastergate and Haywards Heath 

The £20m West Sussex Better Connected initiative is gathering pace, transforming broadband services across the county, with more than 15,000 homes and businesses now able to benefit from the investment in this vital network infrastructure.

The joint project between West Sussex County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, aims to extend broadband coverage to those areas which fall outside the private sector’s commercial fibre broadband plans.

So far, over 80 new green fibre broadband cabinets have been installed in nearly 30 communities across West Sussex, giving thousands of people access to better faster fibre broadband services.

As the roll out of the new fibre network continues, exchange areas which are next scheduled to go ‘live’ with upgraded services from the beginning of the new year include: Ardingly, Balcombe, Bolney, Bury, Eastergate, Faygate, Handcross, Horsham, Pound Hill, Sharpthorne, Scaynes Hill, Slinfold Sutton and Warninglid.

Nik Tobutt, a smallholder and local food producer near Kirdford, is delighted with his faster broadband service: “I’ve noticed a significant improvement in both the speed and reliability of our broadband service allowing me to stream media and data files from the house to my workshop, so I can listen to music while I’m working. My wife is also pleased because she often works from home and now has a service she can rely on. This new, faster broadband really supports our lifestyle.”

Lionel Barnard, Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services at West Sussex County Council said, “It’s good to know that our investment in this new broadband infrastructure is already benefiting many homes and businesses in West Sussex and making a real difference to people’s lives in rural areas. We want to ensure that our rural communities thrive and that everyone has access to better broadband across the county.

“That’s why I’m very pleased that we have passed this 15,000 milestone and that the project is on schedule to meet its aim of delivering faster broadband (24 megabits per second and above) to 90 per cent of the county, and a minimum service of 2 Mbps to all homes and businesses in the programme area by spring 2016.”

Better Connected high-speed broadband is now available in the following exchange areas: Ashington, Billingshurst, Birdham, Bosham, Bracklesham Bay, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Fittleworth, Graffham, Haywards Heath, Kirdford, Petworth, Pulborough, Selsey, Sidlesham, Storrington, West Chiltington and Wisborough Green; with Eastergate the next community to benefit this month.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey commented: “I’m delighted to hear that more than 15,000 additional homes and businesses in West Sussex can now access superfast broadband speeds as a result of the work that we have done. The rollout of superfast broadband across the UK is providing a tremendous boost to local economies and I congratulate the West Sussex Better Connected project on their achievements to date.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation networks for BT, said: “This is great news for West Sussex and the partnership. High-speed broadband will help local businesses grow, attracting inward investment and boosting the local economy. Fibre broadband is also an integral part of everyday life, as people interact more frequently with the internet and get access to education, social media and entertainment at the click of a button.”

The Better Connected project is being carried out in eight overlapping phases with survey work and network preparation completed for the first two phases of the project, and continuing in phases three and four. Surveys for phase five are beginning this month and will continue until March 2015.

The purpose of the surveys is to establish what broadband services can be provided within an exchange area.
Engineers are also revisiting some areas to assess solutions for premises that need alternative fibre technologies. These include: Bosham, Billingshurst, Bolney, Burgess Hill, Faygate, Findon, Horsham, Lower Beeding, Partridge Green, Petworth, Pound Hill, Rusper and Warninglid.

The Better Connected fibre network will extend the reach of faster broadband to more than 44,000 homes and businesses in West Sussex. It builds on BT’s on-going commercial fibre deployment across the county, which has already given more than 300,000 homes and businesses access to the technology.

The multi-million pound partnership is jointly funded by West Sussex County Council, which is investing £6.26m and BT which is contributing £7.6m, with £6.26m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.

Further details about which cabinets are now accepting orders and where surveys are taking place can be found on the West Sussex Better Connected website: http://www.westsussex-betterconnected.org.uk/checkavailablity

Notes to editors:
To-date, the West Sussex Better Connected project has made faster, better broadband available to the following West Sussex communities:
Aldingbourne, Ashington, Billingshurst, Birdham, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Cuckfold, Eastergate, East Ashling, East Wittering, Fishbourne, Fittleworth, Funtington, Graffham, Haywards Heath, Kirdford, Lavant, Petworth, Pulborough, Selsey, Sidlesham, Storrington, Washington, West Chiltington, Westhampnett, West Wittering, Wisborough Green.

About Better Connected
Better Connected is an exciting project to bring better, faster broadband to West Sussex.
West Sussex County Council has contracted with BT Telecommunications plc to build the necessary communications infrastructure to provide improved broadband services. The £20million project is being funded by West Sussex County Council, the Government and BT.
We aim for the majority of residents and businesses to be able to access fibre-based broadband speeds of 24Mbps by spring 2016.
The project builds on the continuing commercial deployment of better, faster broadband in the county and means that by spring 2016:
• more than 90% of properties in West Sussex will have access to NGA superfast fibre-based broadband infrastructure of a minimum of 24Mbps
• all properties in the areas which are eligible for funding through the project should be able to access basic broadband speeds of a minimum of 2Mbps.

About Openreach
Openreach is responsible for the first mile of the UK access network - the copper wires and fibre connecting homes and businesses to their local telephone exchanges. Openreach leads the deployment of BT Group’s £3bn roll-out of fibre, delivering fibre broadband services to communities across the UK as well as installing and maintaining the communications infrastructure that links homes, businesses, public and voluntary sector organisations to their Communications Providers' networks.

About BDUK
Superfast Britain is a UK Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk