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Demand for high-speed fibre broadband soars with West Sussex Better Connected

Press Release   •   Oct 18, 2016 16:20 BST

Connections doubled in just 12 months

Henry Smith MP for Crawley visits local photography business

More people in West Sussex are signing-up for high-speed fibre broadband than ever before thanks to the work of the West Sussex Better Connected partnership.

West Sussex Better Connected – a multi-million pound partnership between West Sussex County Council and BT – has made fibre-optic broadband technology available to more than 65,000 homes and businesses across the county.

And figures announced today show the number of households and businesses using the faster connections in the West Sussex Better Connected area have more than doubled in the past year with 34 per cent now signed up to fibre broadband compared to 16 per cent just 12 months ago.

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, visited photography firm Split Image at Manor Royal Business District in West Sussex, which is one of many firms in his constituency benefitting from superfast broadband.

He said: “Superfast broadband is the lifeblood of today’s economy and I’m delighted that Crawley enterprises like Split Image have embraced the opportunities made possible to boost the economy and employment both locally and nationally.”

Mark Curtis, managing director of Split Image, said: “Our broadband speeds have transformed the service we can now offer our clients. The superfast broadband helps us to maintain our reputation in that we never let a client down. It also means that we can now look forward to a future based at Manor Royal. I would recommend superfast fibre broadband to any small business looking to save money and secure their future growth. Superfast broadband is opening up new opportunities for us, both in terms of saving costs and future-proofing our business. We can now access inexpensive cloud-based telephone and video conferencing services specifically designed for small businesses.”

Stacey King, BT’s regional partnership director for the South East, said: “We are delighted the fibre broadband rollout in West Sussex is proving to be so popular. The West Sussex Better Connected team are doing a great job of raising awareness of the benefits of fibre broadband. The technology really does have the ability to transform the way people and businesses use the internet.”

Split Image is one of 500 companies based on the Manor Royal Business District, one of the UK’s largest business parks providing jobs for 30,000 people and represented by the UK’s largest “industrial” Business Improvement District (BID) – Manor Royal BID.

Steve Sawyer, executive director of the Manor Royal Business Improvement District, said: “For businesses to access fast broadband is essential, not just a ‘nice to have’ option. Achieving fast broadband for Manor Royal was a key objective of the Manor Royal BID. Not only has the successful delivery of this project helped retain and attract businesses here, it has been an excellent example of how the Manor Royal BID can work with a willing partner like BT, to achieve better outcomes.”

The Manor Royal BID worked with the Better Connected partnership to achieve its goal of delivering 100% fibre broadband coverage across the 540 acre site.A combination of direct investment by the BID and the West Sussex Better Connected initiative ensures that every business, new and existing, can benefit from this improvement.

Fibre broadband helps make everything happen online much faster than a standard broadband connection. The fibre to the cabinet technology offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps with some premises able to access speeds of up to 330Mbps with Fibre to the Premises.

All of the engineering work for the West Sussex Better Connected partnership is being carried out by Openreach, BT’s local network business. This means residents and businesses with access to fibre broadband can choose from a wide range of internet service providers and benefit from competitive pricing and products.

The West Sussex Better Connected partnership is being funded by West Sussex Council investing £6.26m in the project, BT £7.6m and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme £6.76m.

About Better Connected

Better Connected is an exciting project to bring better, faster broadband to West Sussex.

More than 90 per cent of properties in West Sussex now have access to superfast fibre-based broadband infrastructure of a minimum of 24Mbps.

An additional £2.5 million of investment by West Sussex County Council and central government will extend the current rollout of ‘superfast’ fibre broadband towards reaching 95 per cent of the UK.

More than 3,000 extra homes and businesses in West Sussex will have access to ‘superfast’ fibre broadband by the end of 2017.

Increasingly expensive engineering is required to build the fibre network further in the county.

All deployment is subject to detailed survey, design and network planning.

Areas which are not included in delivery plans for ‘superfast’ broadband services will continue to remain eligible for any future funding.

About Openreach

Openreach is responsible for the last mile of the UK access network – the copper wires and fibre connecting homes and businesses to their local telephone exchanges. Openreach provides communications providers with services and products associated with that network.

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

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About BDUK

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.

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About Manor Royal Business District

Manor Royal Business District is a key economic hub within the South East region and provides the employment foundation of both Crawley and the wider Gatwick Diamond area. It is home to more than 500 businesses providing jobs for 30,000 people, 18,000 of whom commute to the area from outside the town. By itself, Manor Royal accounts for 40 per cent of Crawley's total employment and, according to the Ratings list, provides over 700 individual rateable business units.It is a significant commercial areas and major contributor to the West Sussex, Gatwick Diamond and wider south east economy, adjacent to London Gatwick Airport.

About MRBD Limited

MRBD Limited is an independent not-for-profit company set up to represent and promote Manor Royal-based businesses. A company limited by guarantee, MRBD is responsible for managing and delivering the Manor Royal Business Improvement District (BID) using contributions from Manor Royal companies to reinvest in the area and generate additional funds to achieve its vision and objectives.

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