As a rural constituency, Arundel and South Downs poses challenges for both constituents and telecoms providers in resolving the problems of slow or unreliable broadband.
Since entering Parliament I have worked to improve broadband access across the county, including through keeping regular contact with West Sussex County Council’s ‘Better Connected’ project, meeting the Digital Minister and calling local summits on the issue. This is one of my priorities and the overall picture is positive: the number of homes able to receive speeds of over 30Mbs in Arundel & South Downs has almost doubled over the last couple of year: it’s currently 65% of homes with only 1% remaining who can’t access even 10Mbs. But there is still more to be done.
After pressing Ministers, I am glad that the Government has announced that West Sussex will be part of the second phase of the £5 billion Project Gigabit and that our area will receive up to £112 million of investment to improve the most rural broadband connections. This means that 68,000 premises in West Sussex will receive superfast gigabit connections, up to 1,000 mbp/s, meaning no more battling over the bandwidth, more freedom to live and work from home, creating new local jobs, connecting West Sussex as this game-changing infrastructure upgrade is delivered.
In addition to this large-scale investment, communities in rural areas are still able to form Community Fibre Partnerships to submit a joint-application for the latest phase of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. The scheme offers vouchers for up to £1,500 per eligible household to improve their broadband, which can then be topped up to £4,000 by West Sussex County Council. If you are applying for a Gigabit Broadband Voucher and need support, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ofcom in its latest Connected Nations report show that both full fibre and gigabit broadband availability across Arundel & South Downs has increased by 53% since 2020. Furthermore, broadband connections in Arundel & South Downs receiving under 10 Mbps (Megabytes per second) have fallen by 42% since 2019. The average broadband download speed across Arundel & South Downs rose by 36% between 2019 and 2021 from 38.8 Mbps to 52.9 Mbps.