There was much to celebrate in Hadlow Down yesterday as it became the first village in East Sussex to benefit from a multi-million pound county-wide superfast fibre broadband project.
Hadlow Down’s first fibre broadband cabinet, providing more than 220 homes and businesses with access to the high-speed technology, has now ‘gone live’. Speeds of more than 30Mbps are possible for the majority of customers, who can now place orders with broadband service providers from next week. Another two cabinets in Hadlow Down will follow soon.
Work is well underway on the eSussex project, led by East Sussex County Council in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council and BT, and part funded by Government, which aims to get the county up to speed with faster broadband. It will see in excess of 66,500 homes and businesses able to upgrade to fibre broadband over the next two years.
One example of those whose lives will change is Chris Stevenson, who runs his own business - Kent & Sussex IT Services - from his home near Mayfield. Chris is welcoming the arrival of faster broadband with open arms. He said: “Because of the nature of the business I run, superfast broadband will be a massive boost in so many ways.
“Currently for any data-heavy tasks I have to travel out of county to use a more reliable connection, as with my current connection, that would probably take all week to upload. Superfast broadband will allow me to offer new online and cloud services to my customers, something which is impractical with limited bandwidth.”
He added: “It will also certainly stop any arguments at home over who is using up the internet connection, as we should all be able to download, stream or play whatever we want all at the same time!”
Another local business also raring to go with faster broadband is Sound Architect Creative Media, a Sussex-based charity that provides educational and recreational opportunities.
Sound Architect Director, Rachel Lewis, said: “Digital media is the core function of our charity and without reliable connectivity and speeds it can be very challenging, if not impossible, to do a simple task such as loading up high resolution pictures.
“As film makers, we need to send and receive rushes and final films from all over the country and a 40mbps connection could see the film downloaded in little over 20 minutes - a lot better than the current 9 hours for an HD movie.
“With faster broadband, I won’t have to worry about how long it takes for a file to upload or download - and very often I do send large files. I will be able to spend more time exploring how to use educational materials which are increasingly content-rich. A much more efficient use of my time!”
Yesterday, Thursday April 3, residents, businesses and children from the local school gathered in the village to celebrate after the new fibre enabled cabinet went live in Hadlow Down. Festivities kicked off with a parade organised by St Mark’s C of E Primary School. There were balloons, face painting, and a cake specially made by a local business to mark this special occasion.
The cake, a delicious edible fibre cabinet, was then cut by Cllr Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council’s Lead Member for Economy and representatives from Hadlow Down Parish Council
Cllr Rupert Simmons said: “In an increasingly digital economy, having access to faster broadband is essential for our county especially in rural areas. It will even the playing field to allow businesses to compete and grow and will empower communities to flourish.
“Good broadband also has a crucial role to play in learning, and in connecting communities so this is a real win for the county. We are delighted that rollout is going so well and that we are able to connect the first communities ahead of schedule.”
More communities - Mayfield, Heathfield, Burwash, Etchingham, Horam, Robertsbridge, Rotherfield and Rushlake Green - will also be able to take advantage of better internet access during Spring 2014, as more roadside green cabinets will be connected in the coming weeks and months.
Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, said: “This investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs both in communities like Hadlow Down and across the whole of East Sussex. It will be of enormous benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”
Work on the ground is well underway in many more areas of the county to build the new network and keep momentum ensure that many more can access faster broadband as quickly as possible.
Residents in the county can keep up to date with the plans in their area by visiting www.goesussex.co.uk.
Engineers for Openreach, BT’s local network business, are building the new fibre infrastructure. Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. This can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to *80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps.
The new fibre-based network is open to all broadband service providers on an equal basis. Households and businesses in East Sussex will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. The technology will boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.
People using fibre broadband are able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. New fibre services are set to transform the way households use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video and on-line training and research to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available on-line.
For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become viable.
Notes to Editors
*80Mbps are wholesale speeds. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP.
The project builds on the commercial roll-out of fibre broadband by the private sector, which has already made the high speed technology available to more than 295,000 premises in the county
About the eSussex project
The UK Government ambition is to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a unit within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is responsible for managing the Government’s broadband funding. BDUK has developed a procurement framework and the ‘e-Sussex’ project team has secured a private delivery partner through this framework. More information is available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website.
The “e-Sussex” project has had to comply with stringent European Commission State Aid regulations to use public money to fund the commercial market place to provide superfast broadband services.
The “e-Sussex” project will not physically connect users to the improved broadband service but will provide the technology through which residents and businesses can contract with suppliers to buy broadband services, in the usual way.
Wholesale access means that BT must make its broadband infrastructure available to Internet Service Providers to market a range of competitive packages to customers.
East Sussex received one of the top 10 highest allocations in the country to provide faster broadband.
About Superfast Britain
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk