Superfast Essex Programme Update - August 2019

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More full fibre broadband is on its way in Phase 4b

Superfast Essex Phase 4b contract signing

A further 3,700 homes and businesses were announced at the beginning of August as being in the latest Superfast Essex contract to get full fibre broadband from Openreach.

Phase 4b is the latest phase of work from Superfast Essex and is split into three separate contracts, all with Openreach, upgrading parts of the following local authority areas:

  • 4b.4 will include parts of Brentwood, Chelmsford, Harlow and Uttlesford
  • 4b.5 will include parts of Castle Point, Colchester, Maldon, Rochford and Tendring
  • 4b.6 will include parts of Thurrock

The work has been made possible by a £5million grant awarded from DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme for England to provide ultrafast broadband to just under 1,000 rural businesses in Essex. In addition, Openreach has confirmed it will provide commercial investment to enable a further 2,700 homes in areas near these businesses to benefit from a full fibre network upgrade, as part of the work relating to this project.

Work is due to start in July 2020 and complete by March 2021 for 4b.4 and 4b.5. Work in Thurrock under 4b.6 is due to start in October 2020 and complete by December 2020.

All three Phase 4b contracts will be delivered using Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology, helping to future-proof Essex’s broadband network.

The other five contracts Essex County Council has with Openreach (across Phase 2a, 3 and 4a) are continuing to progress with a further 3,800 homes and businesses being enabled to access superfast broadband in Phase 2a and 3 since our last Programme Update.

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.


Gigaclear to increase resource as work continues

Gigaclear engineers at work

Ultrafast rural broadband network operator, Gigaclear, is bringing additional resource into its Essex delivery team to help improve the pace of its network build in Uttlesford District, Braintree District, Colchester Borough and Epping Forest District.

Earlier this month, Gigaclear confirmed its overall network delivery timescales would need to change due to unexpected engineering challenges and wrote to everyone impacted to apologise and confirm the steps it would be taking to better equip the team to manage the build. All work is now due to complete by December 2021.

Earlier estimated delivery timescales for individual communities are published on the Superfast Essex interactive map. This includes dates for the communities included in the new planned work in Epping Forest District, now most of the detailed network design for this phase of work is complete.

Please note the estimated delivery timescales for each community are a guide only and remain subject to change, however the overall build timescale is expected to remain as December 2021.

Meanwhile work is continuing to progress with about a further 100 addresses in Birchanger, Gaunts End and Stansted Mountfitchet now able to access an ultrafast broadband service on the Gigaclear network, in addition to those we reported as live in our last Programme Update. Work is continuing in these areas and is also underway in Widdington, Debden Green, Little Bardfield, Howlett End and Ashdon in Uttlesford District.

In Braintree District work has started in seven community areas including Cornish Hall End, Great Saling, Ridgewell, Great Notley, Row Green, Panfield and Bocking West.

Keep checking the Superfast Essex interactive map to track the progress of the rollout and register with Gigaclear to receive updates on the build in your area at: www.gigaclear.com/essex-update.

If you have a question, contact Gigaclear’s Network Build Care Team by email: networkbuildcare@gigaclear.com or phone: 01865 591137.


What to do if you cannot get superfast broadband

If you’re currently not in the programme’s plans but still suffering with less than superfast speeds, then here’s some options we suggest you explore:

  • Make sure you have registered your demand with Superfast Essex. While the funding made available for the programme has already been invested and committed to the current rollout plans, should further funding be identified, we will use the registered information to see the highest areas of demand and be able to prioritise these.
  • Ensure you have also registered your demand on the commercial broadband operators’ websites. Should any of them have existing coverage or plans in your area, they may consider extending their networks in future if they know the demand is there.
  • Explore what community-led funding schemes and subsidy vouchers are available. You may be entitled to some funding support towards getting full fibre installed at your home or business (as mentioned in further detail in the story below), and we’re aware of some instances where residents have pooled their vouchers together to cover the costs.
  • Other technologies might provide better speeds than your existing standard copper broadband connection, so it’s worth investigating what other 4G, satellite and wireless operators are active in your area and if they’re able to help you. If your current speed is less than 2Mbps, then you may be eligible for support from the Better Broadband Scheme

Gigabit and rural broadband funding offers continue

Government funding towards full fibre broadband is still available to claim under the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme and Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme.

The schemes provide funding support towards the installation costs of a full fibre gigabit-capable connection and aim to encourage the rollout of full fibre networks to help those not currently able to access speedy broadband get connected.

The free funding is available until March 2020 or when the money runs out so don’t miss out!

The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) offers businesses up to £2,500 each and residents £500 each, if part of a business-led community group, regardless of existing superfast broadband availability. The Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme (RGVS) is an extension of GBVS, aiming to help residents and businesses in the hardest to reach areas to gain access to full fibre broadband where superfast speeds are not available or planned. It offers businesses up to £3,500 and residents up to £1,500 if they meet the government’s ‘rural’ criteria. No businesses are required to be part of a RGVS application.

View the comparison table on our website to see which voucher would suit your needs best. You may apply on your own or pool vouchers with other residents or businesses in your community to get multiple addresses connected. The schemes are supplier-led so speak to a supplier listed on the Government website who will be able to help co-ordinate a group project and/or apply for your voucher on your behalf.

So far 68 residents and businesses have been connected to full fibre broadband with a GBVS voucher and a further 278 applications are being progressed. These figures include Essex, Southend and Thurrock. One Rural Gigabit Voucher is also being progressed in Thurrock.


Businesswoman on life in the broadband fast lane

Business owner Linda Gemmil

Life coach, spiritual mentor and energy healer Linda Gemmil from Bradwell-on-Sea is the latest Superfast Essex advocate who has shared her story with us about the newly installed superfast speeds at her home transforming her work life.

Read how Superfast Essex was able to resolve Linda’s connectivity issues and the difference it has made to her running her business from home.

If, like Linda, you have a story you would like to share about how superfast broadband has made a positive impact to your life, either at home or work, we’re always keen to hear from you! Please contact us and we’ll arrange a convenient time for a chat.