THERE was much to celebrate in Hadlow Down yesterday as it became the first village in East Sussex to benefit from a multi-million pound county-wide superfast fibre broadband project.
Hadlow Down’s first fibre broadband cabinet, providing more than 220 homes and businesses with access to the high-speed technology, has now ‘gone live’. Speeds of more than 30Mbps are possible for the majority of customers.
The first fibre broadband cabinet will enable customers served by that cabinet to place orders for high speed fibre broadband from next week. Another two cabinets in Hadlow Down will follow soon.
Work is well underway on the eSussex project, led by East Sussex County Council in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council and BT, and part funded by Government, which aims to get the county up to speed with faster broadband. It will see in excess of 66,500 homes and businesses able to upgrade to fibre broadband over the next two years.
One example of those whose lives will change is Chris Stevenson, who runs his own business – Kent & Sussex IT Services – from his home near Mayfield. Chris is welcoming the arrival of faster broadband with open arms. He said: “Because of the nature of the business I run, superfast broadband will be a massive boost in so many ways.
“Currently for any data-heavy tasks I have to travel out of county to use a more reliable connection, as with my current connection, that would probably take all week to upload. Superfast broadband will allow me to offer new online and cloud services to my customers, something which is impractical with limited bandwidth.”
He added: “It will also certainly stop any arguments at home over who is using up the internet connection, as we should all be able to download, stream or play whatever we want all at the same time!”
Another local business also raring to go with faster broadband is Sound Architect Creative Media, a Sussex-based charity that provides educational and recreational opportunities.
Sound Architect Director, Rachel Lewis, said: “Digital media is the core function of our charity and without reliable connectivity and speeds it can be very challenging, if not impossible, to do a simple task such as loading up high resolution pictures.
“As film makers, we need to send and receive rushes and final films from all over the country and a 40mbps connection could see the film downloaded in little over 20 minutes – a lot better than the current 9 hours for an HD movie.
“With faster broadband, I won’t have to worry about how long it takes for a file to upload or download – and very often I do send large files. I will be able to spend more time exploring how to use educational materials which are increasingly content-rich. A much more efficient use of my time.”
Both Chris Stevenson and Rachel Lewis are very eager to order their faster broadband services.
Yesterday (Thursday April 3) residents, businesses and children from the local school gathered in the village to celebrate after the new fibre enabled cabinet went live in Hadlow Down. Festivities kicked off with a parade organised by St Mark’s C of E Primary School. There were balloons, face painting, and a cake specially made by a local business to mark this special occasion.
The cake, a delicious edible fibre cabinet, was then cut by Cllr Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council’s Lead Member for Economy and representatives from Hadlow Down and Mayfield parish councils.
Cllr Rupert Simmons said: “In an increasingly digital economy, having access to faster broadband is essential for our county especially in rural areas. It will even the playing field to allow businesses to compete and grow and will empower communities to flourish.
“Good broadband also has a crucial role to play in learning, and in connecting communities so this is a real win for the county. We are delighted that rollout is going so well and that we are able to connect the first communities ahead of schedule.”
More communities – Mayfield, Heathfield, Burwash, Etchingham, Horam, Robertsbridge, Rotherfield and Rushlake Green – will also be able to take advantage of better internet access during Spring 2014, as more roadside green cabinets will be connected in the coming weeks and months.
Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, said: “This investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs both in communities like Hadlow Down and across the whole of East Sussex. It will be of enormous benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Today marks the next stage in the transformation of broadband in East Sussex, Brighton and Hove. More than 66,500 homes and businesses across the project area will benefit from access to superfast speeds over the next 2 years as a result of Government’s investment, providing a huge boost to the local economy.”
Work on the ground is well underway in many more areas of the county to build the new network and keep the momentum to ensure that many more can access faster broadband as quickly as possible.
Residents in the county can keep up to date with the plans in their area by visiting the go esussex website.