Villages ‘to get faster broadband in 2014’

RESIDENTS in Robertsbridge, Etchingham and Burwash could upgrade to faster broadband in less than six months, the ‘e-Sussex’ project announced this week.

Construction work is well underway, just eight months after East Sussex County Council signed a multi-million pound deal with BT to provide faster broadband speeds.

Survey work is being carried out in several East Sussex towns and villages and the first major part of the new network - new fibre ‘spines’ or backbones – is now being installed.

Cllr Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for economy, said: “This is one of the top economic development projects for this authority and we are delighted that work on the ground has well and truly started. Residents and businesses in the county are now a step closer to our vision of a fully connected county.”

The work forms part of the multi-million pound e-Sussex project driven forward by East Sussex County Council in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council.

The county council embarked on the project in a bid to improve internet connections for thousands of residents who have had slow broadband and, in some cases, no access to modern broadband. In May 2013, the two authorities signed a deal with BT to bring faster broadband to a total of 66,500 homes in the e-Sussex area within three years.

The deal between BT and ESCC builds on BT’s on-going commercial fibre rollout and means that 96 per cent of homes and businesses in the county are expected to be able to access superfast broadband services (with speeds of at least 24Mbps and above) within the next three years.

The ‘e-Sussex’ project represents an investment of £35.44 million. BT is contributing £9.8m towards the overall cost of deployment in ‘non-commercial’ areas while ESCC is contributing £15m towards the project, with £10.64m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.