Public services are evolving and in the future will be delivered in new and digital ways, requiring faster broadband speeds with greater bandwidth.
Our ambition for our county is the highest quality of life in a safe, smart, digital environment, enabling public services to be better connected with each other and our residents.
Working together with the central government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), we aim to help grow our fibre broadband network of the future and ensure that West Sussex is at the forefront of this technology.
2 West Sussex Gigabit
The West Sussex Gigabit project is about improving the infrastructure that will allow our public services to be delivered more effectively for all local residents and tax payers.
Together with CityFibre, West Sussex councils are building a full fibre network that will connect key public sector sites, capable of delivering speeds from 1,000 megabits per second (1 gigabit) to meet the future need of public services.
The project will not deliver fibre broadband to homes and businesses, but we are committed to providing full fibre within the county by working with the market to benefit homes and businesses in the future.
Other projects are currently under way within the County Council that will extend the reach of fibre broadband to more premises across the county.
3 Gigabit project roadworks
Construction methods are selected based on multiple criteria, such as highways legislation and standards, public accessibility and the presence of other utilities. We are working closely with the Network Permit Office and contractors to keep any roadwork disruption in West Sussex to a minimum.
We will make every effort to combine our roadworks with other ongoing work. However, the timing and designs of the project mean the potential to work at the same time in a given location with other utilities may be limited.
Some roads may need to be closed, some will have traffic management alternatives, allowing the roads to remain open, and in some cases work will be carried out in the footpath, with pedestrian diversions.
On completion of any work, all reinstatement materials are checked and a comprehensive material testing process is used to verify that reinstatements are completed to the Specification of the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways (SROH) standards.
Further details about the permits granted for the Gigabit West Sussex Project can be found on our streetworks register map, where you can filter by date range and entering a road name in the location field.
4 Rural gigabit broadband voucher scheme
If you live in rural West Sussex and want better broadband, you could qualify for the national UK Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme. The scheme aims to bring faster broadband services to rural areas of the country by providing funding towards installation costs. West Sussex County Council (WSCC) have worked with local district and borough councils to provide additional voucher contributions for eligible businesses and residents.
What you need to know
- The government runs the voucher scheme through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
- WSCC and district and borough councils in the county work together to top-up the government payment.
- It's not a voucher that gives you money to spend. Payment goes to the broadband supplier.
- Businesses and residents in your community will need to work together as a group - the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme website gives some helpful case studies.
- There will need to be a lead person or group to liaise with the chosen supplier who may be required to enter into an agreement to use the scheme.
- Suppliers will design a project around the premises your group specifies, however there may be circumstances where not all premises can be included and final network designs may differ.
- Schemes typically take 12-18 months to implement from start to finish.
What you need to do
- Find out about eligibility and carry out a postcode search to find a supplier. Do this on the Government's Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme website.
- If your postcode is eligible, results show suppliers in the area registered to the scheme. Contact them to ask for a no-obligation quote, telling them you want to use the voucher scheme.
- DCMS and WSCC will expect groups to maximise take-up and projects that can be fully funded by the DCMS vouchers will be expected to do so.
- Ensure that you, and other qualifying premises, take out a package of either at least 30mbps or double your current broadband speed - whichever is the greater.
What happens next
- If they can give you a connection, the supplier will tell the DCMS.
- DCMS will then confirm the details with you to ensure that you have met the criteria and taken up a qualifying broadband package as detailed above.
- Once the provider has connected your property, DCMS make a payment on your behalf. The West Sussex councils top-up the payment, a maximum of £4,000 per premise, is awarded by DCMS. The West Sussex funding is limited and provided on a first come, first served basis.
- The payments act as a discount to the installation cost and are made directly to the broadband supplier who will claim them on your behalf.
The Digital Infrastructure Team are here to help you navigate the scheme and each stage of your project.
We want everyone who is eligible to benefit from the scheme, so please contact us to find out how we can help you to apply.
We also welcome interest from broadband suppliers considering investment in West Sussex. Contact us to discuss your plans.
5 Open Market Review
The Government has stated that it wants 85 per cent of the UK to have coverage of gigabit-capable broadband by 2025. It has not set a target date for 100 per cent coverage but wishes for this as soon as possible.
Gigabit-capable broadband means technology that is able to support broadband at speeds of 1,000mbps for both upload and download of data. It can be provided across a range of technologies including fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP or FTTH), fixed wireless access, Docsis 3.1 fibre/cable technology and future 5G mobile services.
It is expected that commercial investment by broadband suppliers will provide around 80 per cent coverage by 2025. The remaining 20 per cent of areas in the UK are likely to require publicly funded investment for broadband infrastructure to be built to them.
In order to identify where those areas might be in West Sussex, we are conducting an Open Market Review (OMR) with commercial suppliers to understand their investment plans for the county across the next three years. West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is carrying out the OMR in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is responsible for broadband policy.
Our intention is to map areas that will be eligible for public funding of broadband as part of DCMS's ‘Project Gigabit’ national procurement strategy. This has a budget of £5bn which the Treasury has made available to DCMS to contract with commercial suppliers to build broadband. Eventually, 100 per cent coverage of premises will be achieved. Once we have mapped the areas we identify as eligible for public funding, we will need to check back our understanding with suppliers. It is important that we don’t plan to use public money to build broadband where the commercial market is minded to invest.
Further information has been recently released by DCMS for 'Project Gigabit' which is available in their summer update.
WSCC, working with DCMS, will launch our OMR on 12 August 2021 for one month. We will ask suppliers active in the county, or with plans to be active in the county over the next three years, to declare which premises they will invest in building gigabit-capable broadband to.
This information will be mapped and checked with suppliers and will then form the basis of our intervention area which will carry a contract value profiled by DCMS. Following this, DCMS will procure a contract(s) with a supplier(s) to build gigabit-capable broadband over the coming years.
It is not possible for WSCC to say at this stage when 100 per cent gigabit-capable coverage of the county will be achieved, but this is an important step in ensuring that as many premises as possible have access to digital technology to support now and future needs.
For more information please see GOV.UK for information about the West Sussex OMR.