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West Sussex UK Approve £20m Gigabit Broadband Expansion

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 (1:07 pm) - Score 1,272

The West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has approved a new public investment of £20 million (mostly funded by last year’s business rates deal) to support their new “Full Fibre Programme,” which aims to increase “full fibre” and maximise coverage of gigabit-capable broadband services across the county.

At present only a small proportion of West Sussex can access a gigabit-capable broadband network via fixed lines (Virgin Media’s hybrid fibre coax network covers roughly a third of the county), while Thinkbroadband’s data notes that full fibre (FTTP) coverage is even less at around 6.85% (below the latest overall UK average of 12%).

Some of this could be supported by the existing West Sussex Gigabit project with Cityfibre, which has been working to deploy a new Dark Fibre style network to serve public sector sites across in Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham and Worthing. This formed part of the Government’s wider Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme.

However at the end of last year we reported that a number of local authorities in the county were now looking to extend beyond the West Sussex Gigabit project in order to reach more public sector sites (here). In theory this also has the potential for creating a base from which future broadband ISPs could use to help them build out to local homes and businesses, but that would be private investment (a separate consideration from today’s plan).

Bob Lanzer, Cabinet Member for the Economy, said:

“I’m delighted to see this further, significant investment in the county’s digital infrastructure. Councils in West Sussex are innovating in a space created by slow commercial investment and trying new approaches to see which are most effective in expanding gigabit-capable connectivity to all areas of the county.

This new, evolving programme aims to increase county-wide coverage of ‘full fibre’ digital infrastructure so that we benefit from the fastest, most reliable broadband and are ready for any commercial investments in future technologies.

We are developing our approaches with commercial suppliers and the government department responsible for digital, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Our proposals work with the market to stimulate investment and we are mindful that further government intervention may also be required to benefit our hard-to-reach areas.”

The meeting document includes a rough split of funding for extending full fibre to public sector sites between Crawley, Horsham, Chichester, Arun and Adur & Worthing. On top of that it mentions £8m for a “Rural Connectivity project,” which isn’t well detailed but looks to be doing much the same thing in harder to reach parts of Horsham and Mid Sussex.

west_sussex_full_fibre_extension_funding

Broadly the programme is focused on three priorities: developing the network within and between key towns; enabling the extension of the network into rural areas; and accelerating readiness to Wi-Fi and 5G investments. An exact roll-out time-scale isn’t mentioned, although we know from the Chichester proposal that they expect completion of the full fibre extension by late 2022.

The proposal for Chichester also said that their side of the project would be managed by Cityfibre and the 7 year payment period will not commence until 90% of the sites have been connected and handed over.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    So FTTP for the parasite sector and crumbs for everyone else…

  2. Avatar FibreBubble

    In 2019 WSCC damned by Childrens Services by DfE report. Recommends immediate removal of services from failing council.

    Damned by HM Inspection of Fire Services.

    Paid £47K to CEO for ‘relocation’ despite him not relocating. Paid CEO £30K in gardening leave. Paid off CEO £300K including legal fees for undisclosed reasons

    Highways Dept paid Amey £4Million in compensation despite Amey not having any contracts.

    In 2020 WSCC announces vanity broadband project despite every player already in the county and some announced areas have residential choice of FTTP from 2 operators as well as Virgin.

  3. Avatar IT Person

    The Gigabit project in Crawley in conjunction with CityFibre and Exa Networks (and JSPC) sounded great when it was announced a few years ago, as many of the primary schools are still using an FTTC connection.

    With seemingly no works taking place, at least two schools became fed up waiting and had a Virgin Media Business line installed instead.

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