A new pilot project to provide grants for groups of businesses to get connected to better broadband has just launched in West Sussex with the grants available from 30th November 2015. Exact detail on who is eligible and what the grants cover is sparse but more detail should appear on the site www.coast2capital.org.uk/helping-business-growth/grant-funding on the 30th.
The grants are part of a fairly small £225,000 pilot and given the access summit was hosted by the South Downs National Park Authority it seems pretty clear the grants are aimed at rural business. West Sussex like many counties has seen farms diversify converting barns into clusters of offices and in the days of telephone and fax this worked great, but as faster broadband becomes a central part of business life some of these business courtyards may be struggling.
The existing West Sussex BDUK project has fairly good coverage stats with 91.1% able to get superfast broadband at 24 Mbps or faster (0.46% have access to Openreach native FTTP), there is a long tail 6.7% of premises connected to a fibre cabinet with speeds estimated at between 0 and 23.9 Mbps. Even with the existing fibre roll-out there are still 4% of premises with speeds under 10 Mbps and 0.8% under 2 Mbps and we would expect the grant to be targeting those areas.
Hopefully the grants will be tech neutral, give firms like Kijoma the chance to grab some cash and maybe improve coverage into dips in the land that otherwise don't have access to their fixed wireless network along with the other alternate operators and then of course the big bad BT Group which may well offer infill VDSL2 mini-cabs close enough to a cluster, or if the price is right deliver half a dozen native FTTP lines.