A £24.6 million deal to deliver high-speed fibre broadband to thousands more homes and businesses in Essex has been announced by Essex County Council and BT. When combined with plans by the private sector, this deal should result in around 87% of premises in the county being able to access fibre broadband by the end of summer 2016.
Additionally, the project aims to deliver 2Mbps for all premises in the county. It builds on BT’s commercial plans, which have already made fibre broadband available to more than 500,000 Essex premises. According to the regulator Ofcom, the average downstream speed in Essex is 11.5 Mbps whilst 12.5 per cent of premises received less than 2Mbps.
Despite the county’s proximity to London, agriculture, marine and woodland industries predominate in 72% of Essex. The county is also home to more than 40,000 SMEs, of which 8,000 are IT-related. The company is contributing £11.7m towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas, while Essex County Council is contributing £6.46m, with £6.46m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.
Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure, said: “Now that this contract has been signed we can begin working with BT to build a full picture of the broadband requirements in Essex. These upgrades will make a real difference to Essex residents and in particular, businesses that have difficulty trading and communicating online because of slow speeds. We want to grow our economy and create an environment for businesses to thrive and grow and better broadband is one of the ways we can help.”