Programme Update - June 2021

Superfast Essex Programme Update - June 2021

Taking off with full fibre!

The Superfast Essex team recently met with Excel Helicopters – a company offering helicopter charter, maintenance and restoration – at their base in Stapleford Tawney, to see the difference a full fibre connection has made to their operations.

CEO Simon Rowland says gaining access to full fibre as part of Superfast Essex’s rollout has allowed him to future-proof his business.

“When we bought the business, we realised it needed modernising and fibre broadband was an essential tool for us to use,” he says. “A lot of the systems we use now are cloud-based so it’s really important we’ve got a solid connection.”

Excel Helicopters' fleet

Gaining access to full fibre broadband has enabled Excel Helicopters to move from paper-based accounts to a cloud-based system, use flight planning software seamlessly, access online forms and materials from the Civil Aviation Authority, as well as get aircraft off the ground more efficiently.

Watch our video to see how full fibre has helped move Excel Helicopters from the 90s to the 21st century!

Broadband survey results

As mentioned in our last Programme Update, we recently ran a broadband survey alongside BDUK's Public Review. This gave Essex residents the opportunity to let us know about their current broadband service, in order to identify addresses that should be included in future state-funded broadband rollouts.

Broadband-survey-results

We found some interesting statistics from the respondents:

  • 14.7% of people don’t know what speeds are available at their address – they may be missing out on superfast or ultrafast services available to them.
  • Only 35.9% of people believe they have access to superfast broadband (speeds of 30Mbps+) – we know that around 97% of addresses in Essex have access to superfast speeds, so make sure you check our interactive map.
  • Whilst 79.2% of people work from home, only 35.1% of people said their connectivity meets their needs for regular remote working, which will help to build our case for further investment.

We'll now use your input to help shape our future plans for gigabit-capable broadband – keep an eye out out for further information in our next Programme Update!

Gigaclear rollout presses ahead

gigaclear-engineer-cabinet

Since our last Programme Update in March, a further 1,000 properties across Essex can now access ultrafast speeds up to 900Mbps, as part of our Phase 3 and 4a rollout with Gigaclear.

In Uttlesford district, almost 2,350 addresses have been connected to Gigaclear’s network, and all cabinets in this phase of work are now either live or in build. Work is underway in the cabinet areas of Dunmow Road, High Roding, Little Canfield, Little Walden and Takeley. The rollout remains on track to be completed by December 2021, so keep checking the Superfast Essex interactive map for the latest information.

In addition, 1,680 homes and businesses in Braintree and Colchester districts can access ultrafast speeds thanks to Gigaclear’s work so far. The build continues in High Garrett, Horkesley Heath, Sible Hedingham, Stanley Road, Terling and Tye Green.

A further 500 addresses in Epping Forest District can now access download speeds of up to 900Mbps as a result of the work completed under our Phase 4a contract. However, Gigaclear has let us know that the build to some addresses will now take longer than planned to complete. In most cases, delays are due to negotiating access agreements for private land, longer waits for permission to close Essex roads and engineering difficulties. Work to the majority of properties will complete by the end of December 2021 and a small number of addresses will now be connected by March 2022.

The Superfast Essex interactive map has been updated to reflect any date changes and you can also enter your address via the Gigaclear Postcode Checker to register for direct updates.

Gigaclear has also reached further addresses in the county as part of its commercially funded rollout, following its work with Superfast Essex. To find out if you were included in Gigaclear's commercial rollout, or are in future plans to be connected, visit the Gigaclear website.

Openreach set to reach new delivery milestone

openreach-engineer

Work is on track by Openreach to complete its Phase 3 and 4a rollout at the end of June.

It's worth bearing in mind that this has been a complex engineering project and due to the Covid-19 pandemic and difficulty in obtaining access to private land, work in some areas has been delayed. We thank those communities for their patience. 

The build to a very small number of addresses previously targeted in these contracts will now continue as part of our Phase 4b rollout, with an adjustment in the completion time. Openreach has also notified us that the connections for some flats and office buildings, previously included in the subsidised rollout, will now be picked up as part of their commercial programme within the next three months. All changes will show on our interactive map by early July.

By the end of this month, the Openreach contracts for Phase 3 and 4a will have enabled nearly 12,000 more homes and businesses Essex-wide to access superfast and ultrafast broadband. In total, the Superfast Essex programme has reached over 140,000 addresses in our rollouts with the network operators Openreach and Gigaclear.

Work on our Phase 4b programme continues, but the final delivery completion date is currently under review as the contract is being reshaped to allow for additional funding. Our interactive map will be updated as soon as the new plans are available. Meanwhile, please be assured that build work is progressing.

Residents will be interested to hear Openreach’s latest commercial announcement as they plan to upgrade a further 380,000 properties across the East of England, with around 145,000 properties in Essex set to benefit.

A total of 39 exchanges across the county are being targeted, including Clacton, Great Dunmow, Manningtree, Thaxted, West Mersea, Writtle, and many others. Read the full story here.

Voucher scheme to reach addresses left out of plans

Welcome to Essex sign

Residents and businesses in the hardest to reach rural areas in Essex could benefit from lightning-fast next generation broadband, thanks to the government’s updated Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme.

The scheme, which targets properties least likely to be included in broadband operators’ commercial (non-state funded) rollouts, will provide eligible addresses with micro grants to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections when part of a group scheme. Households can claim up to £1,500, and businesses up to £3,500.

The funding forms part of the government’s national £5bn Project Gigabit investment programme, which aims to bring these faster connections to parts of the county, where commercial investment is not viable.

Currently, the voucher scheme is on hold in Essex due to a procurement by the government which aims to bring high-quality broadband connections to as many addresses in the county as possible.

Superfast Essex is working together with the government to help shape the contract and decide which addresses should be included. Addresses that aren’t included in this final contract may become eligible for a voucher again.

Look out for the latest updates in our next Programme Update, or find out more about the scheme by visiting the website.