Early Christmas present for residents in rural Essex as ultrafast broadband service goes live.

Ultrafast broadband for Christmas

A family in Epping Forest District now has one of the fastest Internet connections in the UK, just in time for Christmas.

As the first property in Essex to benefit from a new ultrafast pure fibre network rolled out as a result of the Superfast Essex Rural Challenge Project, the Venditti family from the village of Bobbingworth in Ongar can now enjoy broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps, meaning they can download a full length HD feature film in less than a minute.

Local residents and representatives from Essex County Council, Gigaclear, and Epping Forest District Council were joined by Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey to witness the launch of the new speeds at the Venditti’s home. Internet speeds of up to 940Mbps upload and up to 940Mbps download were reached, making it the best connected home in the county, and among the best connected properties in the UK.

Thousands of other homes and businesses in rural villages in the district will also soon be able to connect to the same ultrafast service, as the new pure fibre network deployed by Gigaclear goes live. The £7.5 million pilot Rural Challenge Project is part of the Superfast Essex broadband programme being co-ordinated by Essex County Council.

The family has access to internet speeds up to 30 times faster than the UK average, thanks to Gigaclear’s pure fibre network. This means they can download 23 Christmas carols in 1.6 seconds or a 3 hour feature film in 53 seconds, while uploading 200 festive photos will take less than 9 seconds. 

The new ultrafast service is set to rollout across 18 parishes in Epping Forest District. Parts of Abbess Beauchamp and Berners Roding, Bobbingworth, Fyfield, High Ongar, Moreton, Ongar, Stanford Rivers and Willingale are among the first areas to be reached by the project.

Dr Nicholas Venditti remarked: “We are all reliant on cloud-based technology so it is vital that we have decent upload and download speeds. Our daughter is a medical student and our son is currently doing his A-Levels so it is vital they are able to have reliable and fast access to the Internet in order to do their homework and university studies. My wife and I both work from home at weekends so it is really going to revolutionise things for us. Previously our broadband used to drop off all the time, so this will make a huge difference in our lives. Our house is one of the oldest in the village, so much so that we have no mains gas or drainage but we do have the best broadband in the country now!”

Just 5 months ago, Superfast Essex appointed Gigaclear to deliver its Rural Challenge Project, which will deploy Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology to some 4,500 of the most difficult to reach homes and businesses in Epping Forest District.

Matthew Hare, Chief Executive at Gigaclear, said: “The Internet and our access speeds have an increasing importance in our everyday lives. Gigaclear’s new Fibre-to-the-Premises broadband network will not only keep up with demand today, but it is future-proofed to cope with larger upload and download requirements as we continue to use the Internet more and more. It will make a substantial difference to the work and home lives of people living in the rural communities in Epping Forest. We hope those who are connected enjoy this early Christmas present from Gigaclear.”

The Superfast Essex Rural Challenge Project contract was awarded to Gigaclear in June 2015 and work began last month. The project is scheduled to complete by December 2016.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, said: "We are transforming the digital landscape of Essex, and Superfast Essex has already made fantastic progress. More than 4,500 local businesses and homes - like the Venditti's - are set to benefit from this next phase which will see ultrafast speeds rolled out across 18 parishes."

Essex County Councillor, Penny Channer, Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Waste and Recycling, and Chairman of the Superfast Essex Steering Board, said: “This is a great achievement for the programme to finish off the year. I am delighted that Gigaclear has delivered on its promise to have the first customers connected by Christmas. Well done to everyone for making this happen. I hope the great work continues.”

Epping Forest District Councillor Alan Lion, Portfolio Holder for Technology and Support Services, said: “This is a great Christmas present for the Venditti family. I look forward to many more residents in this district being able to access the same all-round better Internet experience and increasing opportunities for businesses, people working from home and families, with the new ultrafast broadband network in the coming weeks and months.”

Rainier Jarman, Landlord of The Nag’s Head pub in Moreton nr Ongar, has also signed up for Gigaclear’s ultrafast service. He said: “Mobile phone reception is limited in the area and the Internet speeds can be slow when many people are logged in to our Wi-Fi, so we’re looking forward to being able to offer our customers ultrafast broadband. They will be able to download a full HD film quicker than it takes to pull a pint! The benefits are double sided, as from a business perspective, we will be able to update The Nag’s Head website far quicker than ever before, while also using social media more to communicate with our customers.”

Residents and businesses can register their interest or place an advance order at www.gigaclear.com/superfastessex, and read more at www.superfastessex.org/ruralchallenge