Why you should consider broadband speeds when moving to West Sussex

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The need for fast broadband has never been more important than it is now, with Covid-19 not only forcing many of us to work from home, but also fuelling many Londoners to leave urban life for a rural one in their quest for more space, privacy and a better quality of life. Villages in and around Petersfield, Midhurst, Chichester and Arundel, as well as the towns themselves, have undoubtedly been one of their sought after locations. However, with infrastructure not quite so up to date in the countryside compared to the city, broadband speeds can seem a little slower in some locations, so it’s good to be prepared before you move.

According to a recent article in Sunday Times Home, fast broadband is now the ‘fourth’ utility, on par with water, gas and electricity in terms of importance to property buyers, with 64% of people saying they would be put off buying a home with slow wifi. Ofcom defines anything at or above 30 Mbps as superfast, whilst speeds above 300 Mbps as ultrafast. West Sussex has varying speeds dependent on various factors, but a report released last year by Ofcom revealed that the average download speed for this pretty county is around 43.2Mbps – just shy of England’s total average speed of 43.6Mbs. This means it’s pretty good. Whilst broadbrandchoices.co.uk – an online company who can show you the best broadband deals from all the top providers – claim that West Sussex can actually optimum download speeds of 362Mbps. Although bear in mind, not everybody will be able to access those sorts of speeds.

I was heavily reliant on fast broadband during lockdown in order to keep in touch with my property buyers, and living in West Lavant, our internet speeds are pretty good. However, it’s not just businesses that the internet is used for. Everybody of all ages rely on it now. Listening to songs on Spotify, using smart devices to turn lights on and off, completing the latest console game online with friends, streaming programmes and films on Netflix, hosting Zoom meetings with clients or even revising for GCSE’s or A-levels online are just a few examples… That’s mobile phones, tablets, computers, Alexas, PlayStation and so on all using the internet in some way. Therefore, it’s of no surprise how quickly these sorts of activities can absorb all of your broadband in a household, cutting speeds down substantially. Luckily, our house is adequately set up, but many of our friends and family aren’t so lucky…

So what are your options if you find your dream house in West Sussex, but find the broadband isn’t so dreamy?

Don’t panic. The good news is that West Sussex County Council announced earlier this year that they have approved a £20million fund to support their new ‘Full Fibre Programme,’ which aims to increase ‘full fibre’ and maximise coverage of gigabit-capable broadband services across the county. The £4 billion national scheme aims to target up to eight million business premises too across the UK, as part of efforts to get the whole country onto full-fibre broadband by 2025. As part of the initial stages of the scheme, areas such as Chichester, Littlehampton and Horsham are amongst the latest areas set to benefit as part of the project.

There are also a few things you can do to improve the situation. Mark Pocock, a home comms expert at broadbandchoices.co.uk, provides further guidance:

Know your speed

The first thing you need to do is test your internet speed with a speed checker. This will tell you how fast your internet connection really is. You can then use it again to test your speed when you’ve made your changes and see if there’s any impact.

Secure your Wi-Fi

Make sure you put a password on your wifi and make sure it isn’t easy to guess to avoid your neighbours taking advantage of your wifi and slowing you down. Your router may already have a password set, most providers will now automatically supply one, but there will be an option to switch it to something easier to remember and share with those you don’t want to access it by going into your router settings.

Move your router

Contrary to what you might think, it is actually possible to Feng Shui a better signal. Whilst odds are we have all lifted our phones over our head in pursuit of better receptions, you are less likely to see people waving their router around. The rules are, it’s better to have it higher up and away from anything that might interfere with the signal – think things like baby monitors and microwaves. Try not to surround it by metal objects, and – bizarrely as it may sound – wifi can reflect, so keep them clear of mirrors and reflective surfaces. Thick walls are also a potential obstacle, with the denseness of the concrete itself, and any steel joists having a potential signal sapping effect.

At Property Acquisitions, we can include broadband analysis in our search reports if clients ask us to. A lot of the estate agents I work with actually have a telecoms team who can provide solutions for homes in broadband cold spots too, so most clients who do come across broadband issues can solve them pretty easily.

Meanwhile, if you’re thinking about buying a brand new home, developers have already clocked onto this concept, especially for their more prestigious properties such as large detached mansions. You will probably find that most of these already have fibre optic cables running directly into the house, and if not, they will be going into a cabinet somewhere on site.

Either way, the West Sussex government website has a pretty handy page here for inputting the postcode of a property to see whether fast broadband is available. Many villages have now improved their broadband speeds.

However, should your dream home’s postcode not give you the answer you’d hoped for, there are many solutions, as explained in this article by Sunday Times Home – so don’t let it put you off your house purchase. Options include Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), 4g Router, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), but if you’re feeling rather flush then you can install a 4g mast! If you have a busy household, Sunday Times also recommend installing a second broadband line into the house, or try plugging your laptop or computer into the router with an Ethernet cable…

If you are looking for a house in West Sussex, and broadband connections are important to you, please do not hesitate to telephone me, Jennie Hancock, on 07776 452128 or email me at jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk. I’d be more than happy to help you with all of your research to help you find your dream home (with a dreamy broadband speed too!).