Multi-million-pound investment agreed for West Sussex’s digital future

'I’m delighted to see this further, significant investment in the county’s digital infrastructure'

 

Release date: 18 February 2020

More than £20million is to be invested in West Sussex’s digital infrastructure to deliver gigabit-capable broadband.

The funding for several ‘full fibre’ projects was agreed by the county council’s Cabinet today (Tuesday). The schemes will be financed from the Business Rates funding pool.

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.”

Since 2013, the county council has been addressing the challenge of digital connectivity speed and coverage and has successfully delivered better, faster broadband to more than 70,000 homes and businesses. Thousands more people can now access ‘superfast’ broadband than would have been the case if left to the commercial market alone.

The county council’s Digital Infrastructure Team is working with district and borough councils and central government to further develop a vision for the county’s digital future. This includes increasing ‘full fibre’ and maximising coverage of gigabit-capable broadband through The West Sussex Full Fibre Programme.

Bob added: “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 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.

On Tuesday, funding was agreed for projects which include building on the county-wide initiative to build new gigabit-capable services to key public sector sites and exploring with the commercial market its appetite for early investment in rural areas.

Crawley gigabit: 90 public-sector sites £1.35million

Horsham gigabit: 54 public-sector sites £0.80million

Chichester gigabit: 50 public-sector sites £0.74million

Arun gigabit: 100 public-sector sites £1.50million

Adur & Worthing gigabit: 83 public-sector sites £1.25million

Rural Connectivity project £8million

The full list of projects can be seen on the agenda.

The Cabinet’s decision is subject to the usual call-in period.

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