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West Sussex council buildings to get gigabit broadband thanks to government scheme

Friday, June 1st 2018 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Public buildings in West Sussex will be among the first places to get gigabit broadband via a new government funding scheme.

A new full fibre network, funded appropriately enough by the government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) scheme, will connect 152 council buildings in Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Littlehampton, Worthing and Shoreham.

The network will be built, owned and operated by fibre infrastructure specialists CityFibre and will be capable of delivering upload and download speeds of 1Gbps.

CityFibre has built core networks in other cities to support local authorities then expanded these at a later date to cover businesses and residential properties, but there is no word yet on whether West Sussex’s scheme will follow a similar path.

CEO Greg Mesch said the new project could actually end up being a blueprint for future initiatives.

“The LFFN provides a powerful mechanism for local authorities to attract full fibre infrastructure investment. We look forward to using this project with West Sussex as a model for rollouts in towns and cities across the country.”

'Tremendous boost'

The £5.7 million contract awarded to CityFibre by West Sussex County Council is the first to be funded by the LFFN, which aims to encourage investment in fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband.

Digital minister Margot James said: "Our programme will deliver a tremendous boost to broadband speeds for the councils of West Sussex as part of our £190 million full-fibre challenge fund. Initiatives like these are transforming the digital landscape of the UK, helping us to build a Britain that is fit for the future."

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in March that more than £95 million from the LFFN would be allocated to fibre projects in 13 areas including Manchester, Wolverhampton, Portsmouth, Belfast, Cardiff and the Scottish Highlands.

The LFFN forms part of the larger National Productivity Investment Fund, a £740 million pot which has the overarching aim of supporting “the next generation of digital infrastructure”.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is also running a Gigabit Voucher Scheme, which offers grants of £3,000 to small and medium-sized businesses to help upgrade their broadband to a gigabit connection.

Image courtesy of Acabashi. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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