New business broadband grants in West Sussex

A new initiative has been launched in West Sussex to help companies to access better-quality business broadband.

The new scheme will provide grants for qualifying businesses and the funding will be available from the end of November. There is currently limited information available with regard to the qualifying criteria; however, it is known that the pilot scheme will be fairly small, with initial funding of £225,000.

The launch was announced at an access summit hosted by the South Downs National Park Authority, which suggests that the scheme will be aimed at rural companies. There are a number of examples in the county of farms converting barns and outbuildings into office space for companies to use. Some of these will be struggling with poor broadband speeds, thus hampering future development.

The original scheme run by BDUK in the region reached 91.1% of residential and business premises and provided speeds of at least 24Mbps. There are still plenty of companies seeing speeds much lower than this, with nearly 1% seeing speeds of less than 2Mbps. It is hoped that the grants will mean that companies not covered by the main infrastructure will be able to benefit from services such as VDSL2 or FTTP lines.

Smaller schemes such as the one in West Sussex are designed to fill the gaps, as the main project has not been able to achieve 100% coverage.