Connectivity is important to us all and it is vital that it is underpinned by scalable, resilient and sustainable digital infrastructure.
West Sussex County Council, together with the county’s district and borough councils recognise the importance of high quality, accessible and affordable digital infrastructure in supporting the county’s resilience, enabling sustainable growth and responding to environmental challenges.
Working together with partner district and borough councils and the Government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, we will ensure the county benefits from all of the opportunities that improved digital infrastructure can bring, as outlined in our Digital infrastructure strategy (2023-2030) below.Digital infrastructure strategy (PDF, 1.9MB)
2 BEACH project
BEACH is an exciting and innovative project to provide energy efficient and resilient mobile network coverage transforming users’ experience in Worthing.
Increasing numbers of people and businesses trying to make calls or get online via mobile phones stretches the existing cellular coverage and outdoor connectivity frequently does not support transactions wirelessly or online.
BEACH will create a cellular network, able to be shared by mobile network operators and hosted on local authority-owned assets, capable of flexing its capacity to supply the connectivity needs of users at peak times.
The £9m project, funded by the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, will deploy optimised and low-impact small radio cells along a pilot area encompassing the town centre and beach front. These will support faster, more reliable mobile speeds and capacity whilst also saving energy across the network.
The project is being led by Dense Air Limited partnered with West Sussex County Council and supported by Worthing Borough Council.
As the lead authority partner, West Sussex County Council will support the project by hosting the equipment on council owned assets, project management support and stakeholder engagement.
Intelligent power management by the BEACH network will decrease power consumption at times of low demand and store power for times of peak demand, saving energy and supporting the council’s county-wide agenda to de-carbonise by 2030.
The new cells will also provide the cellular coverage needed for electronic payments, both at permanent businesses and for traders attending events or markets. Enhanced network coverage will also further support the delivery of local events and enterprises requiring connectivity and enable promotion and marketing on social media including the ability to live stream events.
BEACH is supported by two UK-based mobile network operators who will ensure the project’s success as a world-first shared deployment on new infrastructure developed in line with the regulatory JOTS Framework and utilising O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) at a scale that is designed to be repeatable in other local authority areas.
BEACH will begin deploying 4G small cells on council-owned assets early in 2024. The new cells will provide a significant improvement in cellular services across the network to meet the increased demand for future 5G services.
Find further information and a video about the BEACH project.
3 Growing Sussex 5G Innovation Region
Growing Sussex 5G Innovation Region is an exciting project that has successfully won £3.8million funding from the Government’s Department of Science, Innovation and Technology.
The project, led by West Sussex County Council, is wide ranging in its ambitions. It will co-develop foundational technology use cases (such as 5G and Artificial Intelligence) with telecoms and technology partners, education centres and commercial producers to develop future farming and growing practices that increase sustainable food and drink productivity.
A focus will be to develop a highly qualified, digitally skilled workforce capable of using digital applications in their workplace to drive demand for commercially provided connectivity solutions, including advanced wireless and 5G.
West Sussex County Council is working with Brinsbury and Plumpton Colleges, West Sussex Growers Association, East Sussex County Council and local district and borough councils.
The project will support the delivery of new qualifications in agriculture management, land management and production and develop data sets for specialist growing areas and livestock management that will inform practices around sustainable development, climate change, waste management, biosecurity and the supply chain.
Putting education at the centre of the project will ensure the county’s workforce is digitally skilled and equipped to use modern technology in their workplace (be it field, farm or vineyard) and generate a cyclical demand within the growing sectors to invest in it.
By training digitally skilled analysts and data managers, local employment opportunities can be created for workers who might otherwise not consider horticulture, agriculture or viticulture as a career choice for them.
Growing Sussex 5G Innovation Region will promote innovation, host demonstrator projects, showcase new applications and bring together technology manufacturers and wireless operators at educational events with growers and farmers, as well as provide ‘real life’ test environments to researchers and innovators. A planned programme of learning and collaboration events will be key to ensuring that growers and producers understand and adopt digital technologies, driving commercial investment in advanced wireless technologies to meet growing demand from rural businesses.
DSIT’s 5G Innovation Regions programme aims to drive demonstration of innovative applications powered by 5G and other wireless use cases from proof of concept to widespread adoption across key sectors of the economy. Find further information on GOV.UK.
4 Project Gigabit
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 can 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.
To identify the areas eligible for public investment in West Sussex, Building Digital UK (BDUK), the government department responsible for broadband policy, has conducted an Open Market Review (OMR) and a Public Review with commercial suppliers to understand their investment plans for the county across the next three years. BDUK have used this to map areas that will be eligible for public funding for broadband as part of the ‘Project Gigabit’ national procurement strategy. It is important that we don’t plan to use public money to build broadband where the commercial market is minded to invest.
The areas that are eligible will be considered for intervention with public funding. BDUK have now launched a regional procurement spanning both West Sussex and neighbouring East Sussex, through which it will procure a supplier(s) to build gigabit-capable broadband over the coming years.
For more information about the procurement in West Sussex please see GOV.UK.
‘Project Gigabit’ has a budget of £5bn, which the Treasury has made available to BDUK to contract with commercial suppliers to build broadband. 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.
Further information about 'Project Gigabit' is available in BDUK’s autumn update.
5 UK Gigabit voucher scheme
If you live in rural West Sussex and want better broadband, you could qualify for the national UK Gigabit voucher scheme. The scheme aims to bring faster broadband services to rural areas of the country by providing funding towards installation costs.
Please note: the UK Gigabit voucher scheme is paused in West Sussex. Government is preparing plans to invest public funding in building gigabit-capable broadband where commercial suppliers will not invest. The national procurement is being run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and is called ‘Project Gigabit’.
We anticipate the scheme will open again for eligible communities once the procurement is concluded. It may be that there are changes to eligibility and terms and conditions. The information on this page relates to the current scheme.
What you need to know
- The government runs the voucher scheme through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
- It's not a voucher that gives you money to spend. Payment goes to the broadband supplier.
- Businesses and/or 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.
- Voucher funding is awarded for 12 months from date of issue. Schemes typically take 12 months to implement from start to finish depending on your choice of supplier. You may wish to discuss this with your supplier before progressing.
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.
- 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 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.
6 Public sector sites go 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.