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Business clusters in West Sussex line up for new broadband grants
Saturday 21 November 2015 11:59:15 by Andrew Ferguson

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.

Comments

Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
It is very good news that the grants are tech neutral. This could give fixed wireless the kick start it needs to provide the final 5% coverage in West Sussex.
If the authorities are very clever they can direct the cash to fund repeater masts giving many more businesses and residential customers the chance to use Kijoma and Blaze.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
chitling the problem will be that this will be public money so you cannot build infrastructure withouth a public procurement as you need state aid clearance for what you are suggesting -- that not providing a connection that's building a network !
Posted by mikejp about 1 year ago
As you say, any money would be for easing connection costs and hopefully the business growth with the WISPs would then allow more masts.

The detail is that several (subjective, I gather) businesses will be required within a connection zone and there must be no provider planned provision or pending BDUK roll-out coverage plan leading to the same problem as with the RCBF grants in getting confirmation from Councils that clusters are such.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@fastman
From the fixed wireless operators point of view if they have enough demand in a locality they will provide and pay for the infrastructure to connect that locality to their network.
The grant will just be for individual customers in that locality to connect to the service.
Other customers, including residential customers, in the same locality can then pay to be connected to the service.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
Chilting "if the authorities are very clever they can direct the cash to fund repeater masts giving many more businesses and residential customers the chance to use Kijoma and Blaze" - if they pay for it using their money that's fine -- if they use the grants money that's not fine

Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@fastman
Yes, everything has to be clear and above board.
Actually it is probably the publicity and credibility that WSCC provide that will be more valuable. The actual grant to connect would probably only be in the region of £250 per business. As I said it is a kick start.
Hopefully BDUK will decide that satellite vouchers can also be used for Fixed Wireless - that would really be a game changer!!!
Posted by brandscill about 1 year ago
I hope it doesn't end up in the pocket of Kijoma. I applied for their service 3 years ago and never heard back. I was in an area they covered and was serious about going ahead.

I understand a small business takes time to respond and has to pick their projects carefully but 3 years is a joke. I don't think extra money will change company culture.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@brandscill
Have you taken a look at the Blaze Wireless website to see if you are in their proposed coverage area?
The Blaze service should be up and running as soon as the legal agreements are finalized.
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