SEVEN communities in the Midhurst and Petworth area have been identified as a top priority by BT for better, faster broadband.
Phase one includes Petworth, Graffham, Wisborough Green, Kirdford, Bury, Fittleworth and Billingshurst.
These exchange areas have been earmarked as ‘essential’ and where new broadband infrastructure will be built first as part of BT’s ‘Better Connected’ £20m programme. Survey work is being done by exchange areas in eight overlapping phases, each expected to take between six to nine months to complete.
Surveys of exchange areas identified in phase one are almost complete. These exchange areas have been identified as essential to build the new broadband infrastructure first, so that the network can be spread further into the county.
Better Connected expects to announce the first communities to benefit from access to new broadband services before Easter, and share some of the plans for the subsequent roll out across the county.
A spokesman for BT said network preparation work was progressing well. Underground pipework that carried the existing copper cables which had become blocked was being cleared and some extra pipework was being installed to carry the new fibre-optic cables.
Some new cabinets were already in place and ready to be connected to the network by engineers. Work alongside busy roads was taking place at night to avoid interference with daily traffic.
Peter Cowen, BT’s regional partnership director, said: “High-speed fibre is increasingly important if local households and businesses are to make the most of the huge range of opportunities offered by the internet, whether they are seeking to start a new business, find new customers, undertake on-line training or simply wish to browse for entertainment or leisure purposes.”
Lionel Barnard, cabinet member for residents’ services at West Sussex County Council said: “The county council is fully aware of the problems slow, and in some cases, no broadband causes people and especially those working from home.
“Since contracting with BT last year, we have been carrying out detailed planning to make sure we achieve the best possible coverage in the most cost-effective way.
“Openreach is now carrying out geographical survey work to challenge or confirm assumptions about how and where the telecommunications network can be built.”