District Council overpromised on gigabit fibre but its potential remains

Hopes of the early adoption of a gigabit capable Full Fibre digital network have been dashed, as it seems it will still be some time before the service will be commercialised for small businesses and domestic residents.  The announcement in 2020 that the District Council would “deliver gigabit speed broadband to more than 6,400 homes in Mid Sussex” has yet to materialise despite the Council announcing last May that the “network in Burgess Hill is now ready to use and will soon bring dramatically improved broadband connections to homes and businesses within the town”.

Although the bare bones of the network have been successfully delivered, and ‘dark fibre’ connections will be made available to provide broadband, network services and digital services, wider use is dependent upon operators assessing a business case to make the required investment to provide a service for small businesses and domestic consumers.

The Council now says the completion of the fibre link between Brighton and Burgess Hill, and for its Rural project, will be tested and completed in Spring 2022, and that connections will be available “based on suitable demand in each area from Autumn 2022.”  Businesses and domestic consumers can register an interest at https://cni.coop/ and this is particularly important as the level of interest will be used to assess potential demand.

We are lucky in Burgess Hill to already have fibre broadband delivered by Virgin Media, however the new network has the potential to bring faster, cheaper broadband connections, not just in Burgess Hill but Haywards Heath and some surrounding rural areas.  The Council needs to be careful not to over promise on the benefits to end users, as the ultimate service delivery is dependent upon its commercial partners, but I look forward to the expected benefits of this project being finally realised.