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West Sussex broadband project passes 5,000 milestone
Monday 30 June 2014 16:43:56 by Andrew Ferguson

It has been over a year since West Sussex County Council signed its contract with BT and undertook to reach 98% of premises in the county with a fibre based broadband solution. Now at the end of June 2014 the council and BT have announced that the project is well underway with cabinets offering a FTTC service to some 5,000 homes and businesses are now live because of the project. The project as with others has been slow to get going, but it is expecting to pass the 10,000 mark in August 2014, with the eventual aim of covering 44,000 premises in addition to those in the commercial roll-out areas..

"Our exciting project to bring better, faster broadband to the majority of the county is now gaining real momentum. We are delighted that the first 5,000 premises to be able to be connected to high-speed broadband enabled by the Better Connected project can now access the technology.

Improved broadband speeds can transform how we work, live and communicate. This exciting technology can improve our quality of life and help to grow our economy by enabling new businesses to start up and existing ones to prosper."

Lionel Barnard, Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services at West Sussex County Council

The project is divided up into eight phases with the first phase delivering around forty cabinets across West Sussex and importantly there are plans for FTTP to be deployed in its native form in parts of Wast Sussex. The press release explicitly mentions some FTTP for Ashington, Billingshurst, Petworth and Pulborough, plus the Sutton exchange is being considered for some FTTP and Exchange only line solutions.

As ever we like to dig a little behind the press release numbers and for the ten exchanges mentioned as being in the first phase this is the state of play as we understand it as this time.

Exchange Cabinets Live for FTTC FTTC Planned No Plans Exchange Only
Billingshurst Cabs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11 7, 9 N/A Some EO to get FTTP but not all
Bosham Cabs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 11 with FTTP N/A No plans for EO
Fittleworth Cabs 1 & 2 N/A N/A A little EO but no plans
Graffham Cabs 1 & 2 N/A N/A N/A
Petworth Cabs 1, 3, 9 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, just cab 7 with FTTP N/A EO likely to have FTTP
Pulborough Cabs 2 & 5 4 & 7 with FTTP, FTTC 1, 3, 6 N/A No plans for EO
Selsey Cabs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15 N/A 12 & 13 N/A
Sidlesham Cab 2 Cab 1 N/A N/A
Storrington Cabs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 ,11, 12, 13 Cab 8 No plans for EO
West Chiltington Cabs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Cab 1 N/A N/A

Of course where we have mentioned a cabinet is in the plans this is subject to change, and the same with FTTP coverage. Also those few areas and EO lines where no plans exist at this time might find they fall into scope for one of the later phases of the West Sussex Project.

The goal of 98% with a fibre based broadband connection in the county sounds ambitious, but with just 2.7% of the lines in the county on an Exchange Only line, if BT were to build fibre twins for every street cabinet it is possible and as we have seen already some cabinets and EO lines have plans to enable them, so 98% looks achievable. In terms of the superfast coverage, Virgin Media only covers around 30% of the properties in the county, but if the project ignores EO and deploys just FTTC to all cabinets our conservative calculations suggest 86% at 30 Mbps or faster and 89.6% at 24 Mbps and faster. The eventual figure will depend on how much EO upgrade work is undertaken and how much FTTP is actually deployed.

While it would be great to see a high proportion of FTTP, with a current budget of just over £20 million and 44,000 properties to cover, it was clear to anyone able to do a back of the envelope calculation that FTTP for the majority was never likely to happen, at the accepted average of £1000 per property (and maybe higher in some areas) the project could only have ever hoped to reach 20,000 premises. The superfast extension funding for 2025 to 2017 is a mere £860,000 from central Government which even with match funding is not going to do much beyond perhaps help some cabinets too small for current FTTC work to get a smaller Fibre to the Remote Node deployment.


Posted by brandscill over 2 years ago
Nice to see progress. Would like to see news regarding the slinfold exchange
Posted by cyberdoyle over 2 years ago
Of those 5000 premises passed, how many took service? and are there any statistics to show how many could go live from the cabs or are they just furnished with the barest minimum until funding runs out? ie are the cabs equipped already with capacity for 5000?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@cyberdoyle As demand increases then line cards and tie pairs or even a second cabinet are added under the commercial terms of Openreach.

That is not new information, it has been that way since the BDUK gap-funded cabs started to go live. Remember once built a BDUK cab is just the same as a commercial Openreach one, i.e. no on going risk to the council.

Councils should encourage take-up too, since above 20% they start to clawback some of the gap funding.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
cyberdoyle has been told this numerous times but tends to ignoring it
Posted by JNeuhoff over 2 years ago
"Remember once built a BDUK cab is just the same as a commercial Openreach one"

Just wondering, are there any of these tax-payer funded BDUK cabinets where there is also FoD available?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Cornwall yes but FoD in bduk footprint cannot name one off the of my head
Posted by chilting over 2 years ago
Just to put the achievements of the BDUK project into perspective most of the cabinets listed above in Billingshurst, Bosham, Selsey and Storrington were part of the BT commercial roll out. In our own village, West Chiltington, progress has been fairly good but there have been delays due to poor ducting. If these problems occur in other parts of the county things will start to slow up!
Posted by chilting over 2 years ago
On a more positive note the information on the Better Connected website is much more up to date than it was a few months ago. Especially the interactive map. But it does still give some bizarre results on the post code check. Take Loxwood for example, still in the pre planning stage on the map but due for upgrade June 2014 on the postcode check.
Posted by fastman over 2 years ago
chtiling think you may be mistaken although the exchanges were deploeyed under commercal programmes the cabs woud not have been viable which is why they were able to be funded under BDUK programme
Posted by chilting over 2 years ago
No, all these cabinets were deployed before the BDUK project started this year with the exception of about 4 or 5. Storrington has been up and running for a couple of years. Check out the map on the Better Connected website.
Posted by chilting over 2 years ago
To clarify. I am talking about the cabinets in Billingshust, Bosham, Selsey and Storrington. All the others listed above are BDUK.

Posted by michaelkenward over 2 years ago
As usual, talk of "West Sussex" appears to cover only a part of the county. In this case the places are in west West Sussex. They ignore east West Sussex. Here in Handcross, not far from East Sussex, the chances of getting anything beyond ADSL seem to be minimal.

The goal of "98% with a fibre based broadband connection in the county" doesn't just sound ambitious, it sounds like fantasy. West Sussex has large swathes of rural villages with a few scattered houses. Maybe they are the 2% who will never see fibre, even though this is where most of the money lives.
Posted by davidtym over 2 years ago
I agree with michaelkenward. Being in West Sussex but close to the Surrey border my house is on a Surrey exchange that is fibre-enabled except for our cabinet. Surrey won't include us. West Sussex won't include us in their BDUK rollout. Thus we and our neighbours will for ever be orphans as far as high-speed broadband is concerned. Whilst I can sometimes get a little over 4Mbps, others further away from the cabinet can only get 1 or 2 Mbps. Hopeless.
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