Superfast Essex Programme Update - August 2018

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Phase 4a plans for 5,000 more added to rollout map

Superfast Essex, Openreach, Braintree District Council and Basildon Borough Council with Super Sam at Chelmsford City Racecourse

The new Phase 4a plans include fibre upgrades for homes and businesses in Basildon, Braintree and Epping Forest districts, secured under two new contracts with Openreach and Gigaclear.

All addresses in the new Phase 4a plans (as well as all addresses in existing plans under Phase 2a and 3 of the programme) are now shown on the Superfast Essex interactive map with a green dot.

The £3.4million Openreach rollout will bring superfast speeds to 1,500 homes and businesses across Basildon Borough and 1,600 across Braintree District between October 2019 and September 2020.

The £3.1million contract with Gigaclear will bring full fibre ultrafast speeds to a further 2,100 homes and businesses in Epping Forest District by December 2019, concurrently to the existing Phase 2a and 3 rollouts being deployed by both operators which are ongoing.

Phase 4a has been made possible due to funding contributions from Basildon Borough Council, Braintree District Council and Epping Forest District Council, which have been match-funded by UK Government, together with existing project savings and a significant contribution from both network operators.

The Superfast Essex programme held two events to celebrate the new contracts last month, with Openreach at Chelmsford City Racecourse, and with Gigaclear at Epping Ongar Railway.

Check if your address is due to be upgraded, under any phase of the Superfast Essex programme, on the interactive rollout map at: www.superfastessex.org/maps.

If fibre broadband is available, remember nobody is automatically connected, you have to contact a service provider and ask to upgrade!


Gigaclear's Rural Challenge is officially complete!

Gigaclear, Superfast Essex and Epping Forest District Council mark double milestone at Epping Ongar Railway

Gigaclear’s ultrafast broadband network is now available to all 4,000 homes and businessses in Epping Forest District which were upgraded under the Superfast Essex Rural Challenge Project (RCP) – Phase 2b.

The full fibre network operator, which will now be building to a further 2,000 in Epping Forest District under Phase 4a as mentioned above, officially completed the RCP build with the last pots going live on 31st May, just days after our last Programme Update newsletter was issued.

Residents or businesses who would like to receive an ultrafast broadband service can now contact a service provider to take up a service – remember, nobody is automatically connected! Read about how the new ultrafast network has already benefited one business, CEOStra.

Gigaclear, Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council marked the RCP achievement and the new contract with a business breakfast at the Epping Ongar Railway travelling between North Weald and Ongar, two communities which have been upgraded as a result of the RCP fibre rollout. The full story is available to read on our website. You can also view our short YouTube film and our photos on Facebook from the event.

Elsewhere Gigaclear has started work under Phase 3 which will extend the ultrafast network to 8,300 homes and businesses across Uttlesford District and the Central North area (including parts of Braintree District, Chelmsford City and Colchester Borough).

The full rollout schedule by cabinet area is available to view on the Gigaclear website. You can check the status for your own address in the Gigaclear rollout plans using the Gigaclear Postcode Checker. (Please note Gigaclear's Phase 4a plans are in the process of being added to the Gigaclear Postcode Checker. We recommend you check the Superfast Essex interactive map for Phase 4a Gigaclear plans in the meantime.)


Openreach fibre rollout remains ahead of schedule

Fibre image

The delivery of existing deployment plans to upgrade Essex homes and businesses to fibre continues to be three months ahead of Openreach’s contracted schedule.

The network operator is pressing ahead with work under Phase 2a, countywide, and Phase 3, in the South East and Tendring District, with more than half of the total addresses planned for a fibre upgrade across the two phases now enabled to access superfast speeds. Together with all other phases of work under the Superfast Essex programme, so far we have reached 110,000 homes and businesses and have plans confirmed to reach a further 44,600.

All work is contracted to complete between now and December 2019 or March 2020, for Phases 2a and 3, and by September 2020 for Phase 4a. Earlier estimated timescales will be added to our interactive map once known.

We receive quarterly reports from Openreach to confirm the areas due to upgraded next, and will publish these details on our interactive map once available. It may mean there could be periods of time where your planned status does not change on our interactive map, but this is not unusual. Work is still happening and the rollout will get to you. Please continue to check the Superfast Essex map for updates.

You can view the stages of Openreach’s fibre delivery on the operator’s website.

If you spot roadworks in your area, you can use https://roadworks.org to check if these relate to the broadband rollout. If they are telecommunications works and the reference number contains ‘BDUK’ then the work is part of Superfast Essex. Please note that there may still be a considerable time period between initial roadwords and the new connections going live.


What is happening after the Phase 4a rollout?

Superfast Essex is currently preparing to start procurement for a further phase of work - this will be Phase 4b.

Phase 4b will use funding from a new grant secured by Superfast Essex from the Rural Development Programme for England, and this will target a specific set of rural business premises. In addition, a number of premises in Thurrock borough will be specifically targeted, funded by a local contribution from Thurrock Council. We will publish more details of the Phase 4b plans when these are confirmed.

Superfast Essex is aware that even if Phase 4b is successfully procured and implemented, there will still be a significant number of premises in the county with no access to superfast broadband and no plans to deploy this. Discussions continue within Essex County Council and with our partners to identify funding to reach these remaining areas.

To keep up to date with our future plans, visit www.superfastessex.org/whatshappeningnext. We will continue to update this page as the plans evolve.


Essex businesses benefit from new Gigabit Scheme

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme logo

A total of 27 Essex businesses are lined up to benefit from the UK Government’s new Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, following its launch earlier this year.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched this new scheme aiming to increase access to full fibre networks nationwide in March. The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme offers businesses and any residential communities surrounding them (regardless of whether they can access superfast speeds or not) a subsidy towards the installation of a full fibre broadband connection, capable of providing download speeds of 1Gbps (1,000Mbps).

So far 3 Essex businesses are already benefitting from the scheme with gigabit connections already in place, and a further 24 applications have been made countywide (including Southend and Thurrock). Learn more about the advantages of having a gigabit-capable fibre connection from businesses across the UK which have already been connected under the scheme. Read the case studies here.

Businesses and residents that are interested in the scheme will need to approach one of the approved suppliers listed on the DCMS website, who will then apply for the voucher on the individual's behalf. For full details on the scheme and how to apply visit: www.superfastessex.org/gigabitvoucher.


Community Wi-Fi Scheme

Wi-Fi symbol

Have you thought about introducing a public Wi-Fi service in your local village hall or community centre to attract more visitors, and encourage the use of the space for public events?

Under the Community Wi-Fi Scheme, community hubs can access up to £400 from the Community Initiatives Fund (CIF) towards the installation of a public Wi-Fi Service. 

So far the scheme has enabled community hubs in White Colne, Alphamstone, Peldon, Maylandsea and Bradwell (Braintree) with a Wi-Fi service. If your community hasn’t yet applied, there is still time! Applications will be accepted until 22nd February 2019, however further funding to continue the scheme beyond this has not yet been confirmed so apply now before it’s too late to make sure your community doesn’t miss out!

If your community hub has been enabled with Wi-Fi through the scheme, we'd like to hear from you. Please get in touch to share your story.