Superfast Essex has completed the first phase of its superfast fibre broadband rollout to 65,000 homes and businesses.
Now superfast download speeds of 24Mbps and above are available to 87% of Essex premises. It means the broadband programme has successfully achieved its Phase 1 target three months earlier than scheduled.
The Superfast Essex programme, part of the national Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout is co-ordinated by Essex County Council (ECC) and delivered in partnership with BT.
The programme finished its £24.6million Phase 1 rollout at the end of June ahead of the original expected finish in September this year, after starting work in April 2014. In that time 355 new green fibre cabinets have been installed across Essex and more than 600km of fibre cable has been deployed – enough to cover three and a quarter laps of the M25 or the distance from Braintree to Land’s End, in Cornwall.
Engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, are now preparing to start a second phase of work, which will extend coverage to another 51,000 homes and businesses with further investment from ECC, BT and BDUK and other local councils of £18.9million. The aim is to provide 95% superfast broadband coverage across the county by the end of June 2019 when the second phase of the BT rollout and Gigaclear’s Superfast Essex Rural Challenge Project are completed.
Key representatives from Essex County Council, BT and Openreach joined the programme’s mascot, Super Sam, at one of the final cabinets to be upgraded in the first rollout phase, in Goldhanger, to celebrate the programme’s achievement.
Essex County Councillor Penny Channer, Deputy Cabinet Member for Broadband and Enterprise, who is also the Chairman of the Superfast Essex Steering Board, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and I congratulate all those involved at the council, BT and Openreach for their hard work to make this happen. Broadband is fast becoming a fourth utility and plays a key part in business growth and helping residents access a better quality of life. This programme has been an important investment by the County Council and I look forward to the next rollout phase being delivered with just as much success.”
Giles Ellerton, BT’s Regional Partnership Director for the East of England, said: “It’s a great achievement that we’ve completed this contract early. Working very effectively with our partners, we’ve quickly found solutions to even the biggest engineering challenges as we rolled out this exciting technology to some of Essex’s most remote areas. Our success demonstrates the strength of the partnership between BT and Essex County Council, as well as the determination of the people working on the programme, and we’ll continue working well together to deliver the next stages of the rollout to reach even more properties.”
Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey said: “Superfast Essex has done a remarkable job in completing its Phase 1 rollout three months ahead of schedule. An extra 65,000 Essex homes and businesses are now able to get superfast speeds, and I would like to congratulate all involved on this fantastic achievement. Nine out of ten homes and businesses in the UK can now get superfast broadband, and our rollout is providing a welcome boost to local economies across the nation.”
Homes and businesses in all 12 districts in Essex and both unitary authority areas of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea have benefited as a direct result of the Superfast Essex fibre rollout, meaning more people in all these areas are able to get online quicker than they could before. When the private sector’s commercial rollout is also included it means that 660,000 Essex households and businesses can now get fibre broadband.
A full list of all the cabinets which have been upgraded to fibre by Superfast Essex, and the names of the exchange areas they serve, is available at www.superfastessex.org/cabinets
Once work has been completed to upgrade the broadband network and fibre is available from a cabinet, no homes or businesses are automatically connected – customers need to contact a broadband service provider and ask to switch or buy a fibre broadband service.
A list of providers is available at www.superfastessex.org/providers
. Broadband mascot Super Sam is travelling across the county to highlight the rollout programme and the benefits of the technology. He will next be appearing at the Tendring Hundred Show on 9 July. Find out more about Super Sam at www.superfastessex.org/supersam
To find out if superfast broadband is available in your postcode area, or is planned in the second phase of work, search the Superfast Essex interactive map at www.superfastessex.org/maps
Anyone not covered by the Superfast Essex programme can register their demand for superfast broadband by completing the Make the Connection Survey at www.superfastessex.org/getinvolved