East Sussex Prepares High-Speed Broadband Rollout

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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East Sussex County Council has said its broadband plans require significant investment from the private sector on top of BDUK funds

East Sussex County Council is expecting that a “significant private sector investment” will be needed to construct a high-speed broadband network across the region on top of funds from central government, the council itself and the EU.

The council has issued a preliminary notice outlining its broadband plans as it prepares to begin procurement for the next-generation broadband infrastructure project, which is to cover East Sussex, Brighton and Hove.

Worth up to £100m

The contract is expected to be worth between £50m and £100m over its lifetime, although its duration wasn’t disclosed.

The project is intended to “enable sustainable access for at least 90 percent of all eligible premises and faster downstream connectivity of at least 2Mbps for all eligible premises, all by not later than 2015,” the notice stated.

The rollout is part of the government’s objective of building Europe’s best high-speed broadband network by 2015, and central government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme will provide £10.64m toward the project.

The council itself is providing £15m, while funding from sources such as the EU are also being considered. “There is an expectation that significant private sector investment will be made by the supplier,” the council stated.

The government has set aside £730m of public funding toward the nationwide rollout, however currently many areas of the UK have broadband speeds of slower than 5Mbps, according to a recent report from uSwitch.

Ironically, the East Sussex seaside town of Winchelsea currently has the UK’s slowest broadband speeds, with speeds of 1.111 Mbps. According to the report, 49 percent of UK postcodes have slower download speeds than the national average of 6.742Mbps, with 34 percent suffering speeds of less than 5Mbps and 23 percent subjected to speeds of less than 4Mbps.

Hereford has the dubious honour of the slowest download speeds of any UK town with a population of 40,000 or more, with its average speed of 3.196 Mbps bettered only slightly by second-placed Kilmarnock with 3.218Mbps and third-placed Carlisle with 3.240Mbps.

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