New ultrafast broadband contract secured for Epping Forest District as pilot project completes

Further full fibre in the pipeline for Essex premises

Full fibre network operator Gigaclear has signed a new £3.1m contract to deliver more ultrafast broadband in Epping Forest District as part of the Superfast Essex programme, after completing its first project in the same district.

A further 2,100 homes and businesses in Epping Forest District are now in plans to be given access to the new ultrafast Gigaclear network, providing average download and upload speeds of 30 to 900Mbps. This rollout, which will complete by December 2019, is one of two new streams of work making up Phase 4a of Essex County Council’s broadband programme. The other stream was announced last week.

This new Gigaclear rollout will build on the coverage already delivered to 4,000 homes and businesses in Epping Forest District under the pilot Rural Challenge Project (RCP), also known as Phase 2b of the Superfast Essex programme, which completed at the end of May this year.

The additional work is being made possible thanks to Epping Forest District Council investment of £350,ooo, which has been match-funded by a grant from the UK Government, together with existing project savings and a significant contribution from Gigaclear of over £2million.

Essex County Councillor Lesley Wagland, Deputy Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Chairman of the Superfast Essex Steering Board, said: “We introduced the pilot Rural Challenge Project to find new ways of reaching rural communities with faster connectivity, and Gigaclear’s ultrafast full fibre network has done just that. We are really pleased to have a new commitment from Gigaclear to expand their network further as well as the continued support from Epping Forest District Council to help make this happen.”

Epping Forest District Councillor Alan Lion, Portfolio Holder for Technology and Support Services and Chair of West Essex and Eastern Hertfordshire Digital Innovation Zone, said: “Today is a celebration of another critical milestone in our journey to make Epping Forest one of the best connected places in the UK. Working closely with our colleagues at Essex County Council and with investment from Epping Forest District Council our area is already on track to be the best connected place in Essex with one of the highest levels of fibre connected homes. As well as working closely with Essex County Council, we are also pioneering new approaches with our colleagues in the West Essex and Eastern Hertfordshire Digital Innovation Zone and the delivery of ultrafast fibre broadband is a crucial infrastructure element to support our economy and the delivery of 21st century services to our residents.”

Gigaclear Chief Executive, Mike Surrey, said: “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Superfast Essex team and with Essex Highways to deliver full fibre, ultrafast broadband to more than 30,000 properties including our commercial rollouts in the area. On completion of the current projects Gigaclear will have invested over £35M in Essex, and we will continue to innovate with our delivery methods to minimise disruption and to increase build efficiency.”

Key representatives from all funding organisations joined businesses and other public sector partners on the Epping Ongar Railway on the 24th July to celebrate the completion of the RCP and the signing of the new contract. The event provided an opportunity to reflect on the transformation of broadband in the district with a ride on steam train Isabel between two communities now able to access ultrafast speeds as a result of the RCP: North Weald and Ongar. View the full short film from the morning on YouTube.

The latest plans for both Phase 4a work streams are now available to view with all other Superfast Essex rollout plans at address-level on the Superfast Essex interactive rollout map at: All properties due for an upgrade under the existing programme or as part of this additional coverage will have a green dot.

Over the last four years, Superfast Essex, part of the national Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, has enabled more than 105,000 homes and businesses to access superfast broadband speeds of 30Mbps and above, working with two network operators, Openreach and Gigaclear.

Work is already ongoing to extend this coverage to more than 149,400 properties across Essex as part of Superfast Essex Phases 2 and 3, including work by Gigaclear in Braintree, Colchester, Chelmsford and Uttlesford districts. After both streams of Phase 4a are complete, more than 154,600 homes and businesses in Essex will have access to superfast broadband as a result of the Superfast Essex programme.

To find out if your property is able to access superfast speeds or due to be upgraded as part of the Superfast Essex programme, visit the Superfast Essex interactive map. If fibre broadband is available, remember nobody is automatically connected, you have to contact a service provider and ask to upgrade.

Anyone not currently due for an upgrade can register their demand for faster broadband by completing the Make the Connection Survey:



people standing by sign

Left to right: Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) Local Projects Director, Joshua Burton; Epping Forest District Councillor, Alan Lion; Superfast Essex Senior Programme Manager (ECC), Connie Kerbst; Essex County Councillor, Lesley Wagland; Gigaclear Chief Executive, Mike Surrey; Epping Ongar Railway Business Development Manager, Dean Walton; Epping Forest District Council Economic Development Officer, Mike Warr; Gigaclear Business Development Director, Joe Frost.

train in station people standing by station

Superfast Essex, Gigaclear, Epping Forest District Council and business representatives marked the completion of the Rural Challenge Project and new Phase 4a plans in Epping Forest District travelling on the Epping Ongar Railway, between North Weald and Ongar which both now have access to ultrafast broadband speeds.

Group includes Essex County Councillor, Lesley Wagland; Epping Forest District Councillor, Alan Lion; Gigaclear Chief Executive, Mike Surrey; Gigaclear Project Director, Liz Southard; and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) Local Projects Director, Joshua Burton.