A project to deliver ultrafast broadband across the county could see Adur and Worthing become the first ‘gigabit’ areas in the south east.
The joint initiative between West Sussex County Council and Adur and Worthing councils could deliver speeds 100 times faster than the UK average to businesses and homes.
Subject to a successful funding bid, the proposal could make Worthing, Lancing and Shoreham the first in the south east to have widespread ultrafast provision.
West Sussex could then follow in becoming the country’s first ‘gigabit’ county.
Worthing Borough Council leader Dan Humphreys said: “When I am about talking to local businesses in the area, they want the very fastest download and upload speeds for their businesses.
“Going into the future this is something which is becoming more and more critical. This is for people in their homes as much as for businesses.”
Ultrafast broadband delivers speeds of 1,000 megabits per second through fibre connections.
Current ‘superfast’ connections are often slowed down by copper wiring through part of the network, reducing typical upload speeds.
A report to Adur and Worthing councils cabinet members on Wednesday claimed telecoms giants had ‘failed’ to invest sufficiently in the fibre network to deliver ultrafast broadband to all.
The initiative would see Adur and Worthing councils procure a long-term contract for installation of an ultrafast connection for its 53 council sites.
With the councils as an anchor tenant, the risk for the firm installing the network would be reduced, encouraging it to widen the network.
Businesses would then be invited to register interest in the technology, with the scheme eventually rolled out to homes.
Adur and Worthing would be the pilot, before being extended across West Sussex.
Paul Brewer, director for digital and resources, told councillors it was a priority of all the councils to deliver widespread ultrafast broadband and was an example of ‘doing the right thing’ to facilitate change.
He claimed the initiative would drive down the cost of ultrafast broadband, enabling smaller firms to benefit.
He said: “It’s exciting for the public sector in relation to the future of public services, how we might, for example, expect vulnerable groups to receive care via videolink and also for schools and hospitals where the data transfer requirements are only growing faster with things like big images being sent between hospitals and GPs.
“The biggest beneficiary I think will be businesses. At the moment small businesses are penalised because they have to pay a lot of money to existing providers for fast connectivity.”
If funding is secured from the county’s business rates pool in November, a procurement process will begin.
Connection of the council sites would begin in Spring 2017, while businesses could be connected between 2018 and 2019.