Superfast Essex Programme Update - May 2019

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Gigaclear network live in parts of Uttlesford District

Gigaclear and Superfast Essex celebrate the first cabinet going live in Birchanger

Residents and businesses in Birchanger, Stansted Mountfitchet and Gaunts End are now able to access ultrafast broadband on Gigaclear’s full fibre network. Cabinets in these three communities are the first to have gone live in Uttlesford District as part of the Phase 3 rollout.

A total 630 homes and businesses across the three communities are now able to access download and upload speeds of up to 900Mbps making it possible to download a 2.5-hour film in less than a minute – faster than boiling a kettle. Around 500 more homes and businesses in these cabinet areas will become live on the network later as the build continues.

In Braintree District, the first three community cabinet areas are due to go live in July, in Cornish Hall End, Great Saling and Ridgewell. These communities have been slightly delayed due to engineering difficulties experienced in Great Saling.

A further 16 community cabinet areas are in plans to be full fibre-enabled in parts of Braintree District and Colchester Borough along with a further 20 community cabinet areas in Uttlesford District.

Installing a new full fibre network brings with it multiple potential engineering challenges and Gigaclear is working to overcome all difficulties as they are identified in the build. We provide earlier estimated timescales for work to be completed within each community on our Superfast Essex interactive map, however these timescales are indicative only and have the potential to change throughout the build in order to help address engineering obstacles which arise.

We anticipate the estimated timescales for some communities may change in the coming weeks however this will not impact the overall end date for the entire Phase 3 Gigaclear rollout which remains on track to be completed by July 2020.

We will update the Superfast Essex interactive map with any changes which may occur and encourage residents and businesses to keep checking this for the latest information. Gigaclear will notify residents and businesses of any significant changes.

Openreach achieves more fibre upgrades, faster!

Openreach fibre cabinet

Openreach’s Phase 2 fibre rollout remains three months ahead of schedule and now the next phase of planned work could be starting earlier than expected too.

The rollout of fibre cabinets and Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) under the current Openreach delivery contracts consists of Phase 2 (Essex-wide), Phase 3 South East (which includes parts of Castle Point, Maldon and Rochford districts) and Phase 3 Tendring District, and a Phase 4 (which includes parts of Basildon Borough and Braintree District) is planned and due to start in October this year.

However, with the Phase 2 delivery progressing well and anticipated to complete in the autumn, it is possible that the Phase 4 build start could be brought forward.

So far around 56,000 homes and businesses have been enabled to access superfast fibre broadband under Phase 2 and around a further 2,600 under Phase 3. As part of this, Openreach has also added extra capacity to existing cabinets which had become full where fibre broadband orders have been so popular. A total 24 cabinets which previously had waiting lists for orders have this month been become available to provide more fibre services to customers.

Keep checking the Superfast Essex interactive map for the latest rollout information and follow Superfast Essex on Facebook or Twitter to receive our weekly rollout updates about new fibre-enabled cabinets, and additional cabinet capacity.

Please remember, nobody is automatically connected to superfast broadband once the work to upgrade the network to fibre is complete; you must contact an internet service provider and ask to switch to a superfast broadband package.

Watch this space - Phase 4b news coming soon

It has taken slightly longer than anticipated to finalise the details of the Phase 4b rollout plan ready for the contract(s) to be signed. We are very close to completing this process and will be able to announce the areas due to be included in the deployment and which supplier will be completing the work very soon. We will be announcing the news in the local media, on our website and social media and will update the interactive map to show the premises in plans for an upgrade. Watch this space!

New gigabit vouchers available for rural broadband

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a new voucher scheme to help rural premises without superfast broadband access funding towards the installation of full fibre broadband.

The Rural Gigabit Connectivity Voucher Scheme (RGC), launched officially just last week to help some of the hardest-to-reach get better connected, is an extension to the already existing Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) but with some slight differences.

Both schemes are supplier-led, open to any residents or businesses unable to access speeds of 30Mbps, and the new broadband connection installed under both schemes must be gigabit-capable.

Under the RGC scheme the value of vouchers available is higher – residents can access £500 to £1,500 and businesses can access £500 to £3,500. Only group projects, not individuals, can apply for the RGC scheme, and group projects under the RGC scheme may be made up of residents only. RGC vouchers do cover VAT and the minimum new speed a customer must have is 30Mbps.

For further details including eligibility, terms and conditions and a table comparing the RGC and GBVS schemes, visit

As of 30th April 2019, 40 GBVS vouchers have helped to get residents and businesses connected to full fibre broadband, and a further 220 are in progress (including Southend and Thurrock).

Superfast Essex has supported events in Basildon Borough (Digital Basildon) and Tendring District (Give Your Business a Boost This Spring) this month to promote the GBVS and will be supporting more business events in other districts throughout the year. In June and July we'll be at Discovering Business in Essex, in Chelmsford, Check-in at Stansted, and Rochford Business Breakfast. Keep an eye on our events list for the latest - we'll be adding more.

The panel discuss the importance of full fibre broadband at Digital Basildon, held at New Holland Tractor Plant, in Basildon.

Residents share their superfast broadband stories

Student nurse Pascalle Mickelson is finding studying easier now she has superfast broadband

We know the best way for people in Essex to appreciate the benefits of having superfast broadband is to hear about them first hand from others who have transformed their life at home or work with superfast speeds.

Read how student nurse Pascalle Mickelson, Broadband Champion Steve Middleditch, and business owner Sally Brazier have all experienced life in the fast lane with superfast broadband and the difference it has made to them.

If you have a story you would like to share about how superfast broadband has benefited your life at home or work, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us to arrange a when is a convenient time for you to chat.

Digital Buddies on board and Smart Homes now live

Digital Boomers' Digital Buddies Scheme is now live and recruiting and the first Living Smart Homes in Essex are already helping residents realise the benefits of having digital care support available.

The Digital Boomers programme, co-ordinated by ReThink Partners together with partners from Essex County Council, and other local government authorities, and the health, adult social care and voluntary sectors, is working to help older people in Essex live more independently through the use of digital applications and technology.

The Digital Buddies Scheme is aiming to help over 55s feel more confident with technology and improve their digital skills with support from volunteers in their community. Already 50 Digital Buddies and 100 Digital Learners have been recruited.

The programme is also working to kit out homes with the latest care technology to be showcased to others to demonstrate how technology can help improve quality of life. Two of the Smart Living Homes are now live. Visit the Digital Boomers Facebook page to watch a video showing how a smart plug and an Alexa have changed the lives of one couple in Dunmow in the simplest of ways.

If you or anyone you know would like to find out more about the Digital Boomers programme or get involved in the Digital Buddies Scheme, visit: