Superfast Essex Programme Update - May 2018

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Contracts for Phase 4a being signed next month

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Superfast Essex is pressing ahead with its Phase 4 plans, and due to sign contracts for the first stage of delivery, Phase 4a, next month.

Phase 4 is aiming to extend superfast broadband coverage to as many Essex homes and businesses as possible by 2021. It has been broken into two delivery stages, 4a and 4b, with the contracts for Phase 4a due to be signed and the network delivery partners to be announced next month. Superfast Essex will be able to share the areas included in this phase of delivery on the online interactive rollout map in July/August.

As mentioned previously, Phase 4a will be deployed in Basildon Borough, Braintree District and Epping Forest District. Phase 4b will seek to cover as much as possible of the remaining eligible areas of Essex subject to funding being secured. We are currently preparing the areas we’re planning to invest in, with a view to starting procurement in July. We’ll use our existing data to identify the areas currently unable to access superfast broadband speeds or not in plans to receive it, to determine the properties eligible for inclusion in Phase 4b. More details about the areas due to be covered by Phase 4b will be shared later in the year when known.

Read more about the programme's next steps to improve broadband coverage.

50% fibre service take-up target achieved early!

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Superfast Essex’s work with Openreach is progressing well and the number of customers taking up a fibre service on the network is exceeding expectations too.

The Phase 2a rollout remains ahead of schedule, and the first fibre cabinet in the Phase 3 rollout is now live and accepting orders. The two phases of work are being rolled out concurrently, and are ongoing until March 2020.

Meanwhile, the network upgraded in Phase 1 has already attracted fibre broadband orders from 52% of fibre-enabled homes and businesses and the number is continuing to rise, meaning the programme has already exceeded its 50% take-up target which was set for July this year. Higher take-up of fibre is helping the programme to extend the rollout further, because the programme receives funds from Openreach to re-invest into extending the network as more orders are placed. Don’t forget, you’re not automatically connected to fibre broadband when a cabinet goes live – you must contact your existing or an alternative provider and ask to switch! Here’s a list of providers in Essex.

With an increasing amount of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology being used to achieve superfast speeds in more rural areas, Superfast Essex will soon be adding a list of the FTTP areas being enabled by the programme to the website in addition to the existing cabinet list.

Track the rollout and check the broadband status for your address using our property-level interactive map. The map displays the date when all work is due to complete under each contract, and will be updated to provide an earlier indicative delivery date once known.

Gigaclear moving ahead to the next phase of work

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Ultrafast broadband is now available to nearly all of the Superfast Essex Rural Challenge Project (RCP) area and the early stages of Gigaclear's Phase 3 work has begun.

Residents and businesses in Epping Forest District with access to Gigaclear's new full fibre network can order a service now from one of these listed providers. The final few addresses being connected to the network in the coming days can check when it's available to them and order at:

Meanwhile site surveys have begun in some areas due to be upgraded in Phase 3 and physical work is due to start next month. Communities in both Lot 1 - Uttlesford District, and Lot 2 - Central North (which includes parts of Braintree District, Chelmsford City and Colchester Borough) will begin to see more activity as work gets underway. View the full rollout schedule online.

Events are being held in the coming weeks for parish/town council representatives, Broadband Champions, district, city, borough and county councillors in Lot 1 and Lot 2 to find out more and ask questions on behalf of their communities. Those this applies to will have received invites directly. If you haven't already registered to attend, please do so via the links shared.

New Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme launches

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The UK Government launched a new scheme in March this year, aiming to increase access to full fibre networks nationwide. The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme offers businesses and the residential areas surrounding them, a subsidy towards the installation cost of a gigabit-capable fibre connection, capable of providing download speeds of 1,000 Mbps or 1Gbps. Businesses can access from £500 to £3,000 and residents can access £500.

The scheme is open to businesses and residents, if part of a business-led community group, regardless of whether they can access superfast speeds already or not and as long as a full fibre connection is not currently available or planned.

The scheme will be supplier-led, meaning businesses and residents will need to approach one of the approved suppliers listed on the Government website, and the supplier will apply for the voucher on their behalf. For full details and to apply visit:

Community Wi-Fi Scheme still open for applications

Does your community centre or village hall have Wi-Fi yet? If not, this scheme could help make it available. Under the Community Wi-Fi Scheme community 'hubs' can access up to £400 from the Community Initiatives Fund towards the installation of a public Wi-Fi service.

So far there have been 23 successful applications and of those at least five community hubs are now LIVE. Does your community hub have Wi-Fi? We'd like to hear from you about the difference it's making if so. Please get in touch to share your story.

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Digital hopes for independent living in Essex

An exciting new project is being developed to help older people in Essex to live more independently with the help of digital.

Superfast Essex is one of a number of local government partners working together with others from the health, social care and voluntary sectors led by agency ReThink Partners in workshops, known as the Independent Living Collaborative. The group has helped to explore what barriers exist, what needs to change and what opportunities digital presents to the health and care sector with the aim to increase independent living for older people in Essex.

A report of the findings and plan of action for the future, called the Digital Boomers report, is due out next month. Look out for it in the news and we’ll continue to keep you updated as the Digital Boomers project evolves.