More than 3,600 Essex households can now access high speed fibre broadband thanks to the Superfast Essex programme, which celebrates its first anniversary of the contract being signed this month.
The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) contract signed by Essex County Council and BT in August 2013 marked a commitment to extend the fibre broadband network and improve broadband connections across Greater Essex, allowing faster speeds to be available to 75,000 premises by the end of summer 2016.
Since engineering work began in April this year following extensive survey work and planning, 36 of the 400 fibre broadband cabinets installed by the Superfast Essex programme have gone live, offering better connectivity for more than 3,600 homes and businesses. By the end of the year engineers will have laid 156km of fibre spine cable – the same length as the third stage of the Tour de France from Cambridge to London via Essex.
Key representatives from Essex County Council, BT and BDUK will meet at County Hall next week to celebrate this milestone and discuss the progress of the rollout and achievements to date.
Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure, said: “It is great to know that thousands of Essex homes and businesses are already able to access high speed broadband and there’s still plenty more who stand to benefit. We want to make sure we celebrate this success and the fact the Superfast Essex rollout is on track and progressing well, however it is also important we ensure BT are delivering what they promised when they signed the Superfast Essex contract. The year anniversary of this date seems an appropriate time to reflect on this. I look forward to a positive meeting with our partners next week.”
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “The Essex programme is making strong progress, bringing high-speed fibre broadband to some of the most challenging areas. The programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together. BT has brought technical expertise to the table as well as millions of pounds of investment, and if we can go further, we will do so. This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and leisure.”
The Essex celebration comes as the Government announced that more than 1 million UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the UK wide rollout.
The rate at which fibre technology is being rolled out under the programme is rapidly accelerating, with up to 40,000 UK premises gaining access every week.
The £1.7 billion nationwide rollout is firmly on track to extend superfast broadband to 95% of UK homes and businesses by 2017. In Greater Essex, just last month, Essex County Council’s Cabinet agreed to invest further funding via the Superfast Essex programme in support of this commitment.¹
The UK-wide rollout is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan, and locally is a key priority for Essex County Council, to help secure Britain’s future by providing access to superfast broadband in areas the private sector would not otherwise have reached.
Faster broadband will not only improve profits for UK businesses, but will create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024. The work involved in the current rollout is expected to provide a £1.5 billion boost to local economies. By 2024, the government’s current investments in faster broadband will be boosting rural economies by £275 million every month or around £9 million every day.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “More than a million homes and businesses have now benefitted as a result of Government’s investment in superfast broadband. It is totally transforming the way we live and work. You can download feature length films faster, chatting online with family and friends around the world using VOIP is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously without the connection slowing down or dropping out. For Businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and accessing markets abroad for the first time.”