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 (eg. 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from the Government’s procurement Framework was used, although this time only BT remained as a supplier, Fujitsu having withdrawn. Deployment is well underway, with a target of 7,900 premises to be delivered by end December 2018.

Information on contract 2 deployment at exchange level is regularly updated and 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. This process has been complex and time-consuming, with BT submitting many updated proposals following discussion and negotiation. During this time, BT has continued to carry out work on the ground at their own risk, with over 600 premises connected to ultrafast (1,000Mbps) broadband as a result.

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 is now in discussion with BDUK about the National Rural Gigabit Connectivity and Full Fibre projects and how these can be used in East Sussex. The Council is also developing some ideas about how it can continue to work with communities, including potentially using match-funding on local projects. We’ll keep you updated as these plans develop.

National Voucher Scheme

The Government has launched and manage its own subsidised schemes to enable residents and businesses to access a Broadband Service.

Further details can be found on the top bar of the project website (National Schemes).

Enquiries

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