Superfast broadband

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What is eSussex all about?

The ‘eSussex’ project, led by East Sussex County Council, was launched to improve Internet connectivity for homes and businesses in East Sussex.

The project provides infrastructure (e.g. fibre, cables, wires) which enables residents and businesses to buy fibre broadband from their Internet Service Provider (ISP). Connection is not automatic and users will always have to contact their ISP to arrange a fibre broadband package.

How is this going to happen?

Contract 1

May 2013 – March 2017. Following approval from ESCC’s Cabinet, a procurement took place using a “call off” from the Government’s Framework (BT and Fujitsu were named suppliers on the Framework). A contract was signed in May 2013 to deliver a programme of infrastructure improvements, using £22m of public funding. Contract 1 completed deployment on time, on budget and on target, having upgraded all exchanges in the county to fibre. It connected 70,400 premises to fibre infrastructure with 56,200 of these at superfast speeds (24Mbps+).

Information on contract 1 deployment at exchange level can be found on the project website.

Contract 2

June 2016 – December 2018. In 2015 ESCC signed a second contract using a budget of £6m public funding. Again, a “call off” from the Government’s procurement Framework was used, although this time only BT remained as a supplier, Fujitsu having withdrawn. The second project was completed in 2019 on budget and on time, having connected a further 9,479 premises to fibre infrastructure with 7,026 of these at superfast speeds (24Mbps+).

Information on contract 2 deployment at exchange level can be found on the project website.

Contract 3

ESCC signed a third contract with BT in February 2018, following an open procurement process (known as OJEU, Official Journal of the European Union) open to all telecoms suppliers. BT was originally contracted to deliver 7,220 superfast premises by March 2020 and were required to carry out surveys in advance of any work, as opposed to quarterly as with previous contracts. As expected, the survey work has led to changes needing to be made to the original contract, including the commercial terms.

In March 2020, changes to the contract were agreed by the County Council, Building Digital UK (BDUK) and BT, having ensured that the proposals met state aid rules and delivered value-for-money. The updated contract will deliver 5,586 superfast premises for a budget of £4.3m and is forecast to be completed by December 2021. Details can be found in the news section and on the postcode checker of the project website.

The Government has set clear, ambitious targets for the future of telecoms infrastructure (see Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review). The County Council continues to be in discussion with BDUK on its ‘Project Gigabit’ (formerly ‘Outside In’ project) which is aimed at the hardest to reach ‘final few’ properties. East Sussex is included in BDUK’s plans, but not in the first phase which is currently in development. Once we have further information on how this scheme will benefit communities in East Sussex, we will publish the details on the project website.

National Voucher Scheme

As part of their Project Gigabit connectivity programme, the Government is providing up to £210m worth of voucher funding as immediate help for people experiencing slow broadband speeds in rural areas. Businesses and residents are eligible for additional funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project.

The County Council is continuing to invest in the Government’s Scheme, which was re-launched on 8th April 2021, by topping-up vouchers for both business and residential premises to a value of up to £1,000 per voucher.

Further details, including how to apply, can be found on the project website.

Enquiries

The eSussex website contains lots more information, including FAQs. The team can be contacted at broadband@eastsussex.gov.uk.