Superfast Essex Programme Update - December 2019

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Gigaclear network grows in Braintree and Uttlesford

Gigaclear, Superfast Essex and Super Sam at the new live cabinet in Panfield

More than 1,400 homes and businesses in Braintree District can now access an ultrafast broadband service on the Gigaclear network.

Villages served by the Great Saling, Panfield, Cornish Hall End and Ridgewelll cabinets have now been enabled to access ultrafast broadband speeds of up to 900Mbps as a result of the Phase 3 Lot 2 (Central North) rollout.

The first 600 addresses went live in communities served by the Great Saling and Panfield cabinets in October. A further 800 became enabled when the Cornish Hall End and Ridgewell cabinets went live at the end of November.

More than 1,000 homes and businesses in Birchanger, Gaunts End, Stansted Mountfitchet and Gaunts End cabinet areas also now have access to ultrafast broadband as a result of work completed so far under the Phase 3 Lot 1 rollout (Uttlesford District).

More addresses in all these areas and others will become live as work progresses. Both the Phase 3 network build and Phase 4 network build in Epping Forest District are due to complete by December 2021. Check the status of your address on the interactive map: www.superfastessex.org/maps. Register for updates with Gigaclear via the postcode checker: www.gigaclear.com/superfastessex.


Openreach work continues as Phase 2 build ends

Openreach FTTP engineers at work

Work is on track by Openreach to complete its Phase 2 rollout at the end of this month.

By the end of this year the Phase 2 build, which began in June 2016, will have enabled 60,000 more homes and businesses Essex-wide to access superfast broadband. In total to date we've reached 132,000 addresses, with both Openreach and Gigaclear, and 87% of the overall Superfast Essex programme network build is complete.

Work is continuing across the remaining Openreach Phase 3 and 4 contracts which are set to bring superfast connectivity to a further 16,000 homes and businesses over the next two years. Already 6,000 of these are now live, including some early delivery under Phase 4.

As the areas we are trying to reach are becoming more rural, the nature of the network build is becoming increasingly complex. While Openreach is incorporating additional time to address unexpected challenges in its build schedule, it is now forecast that Phase 3 will take six months longer to complete than originally anticipated. This impacts around 3,000 addresses in Castle Point, Colchester, Maldon, Rochford and Tendring Districts. We have written to the parish/town councils and Broadband Champions from the areas effected to update them. The interactive map has been updated to reflect the date changes.

Check the status of your own address and follow the progress of our network build at: www.superfastessex.org/maps.


Changes to broadband funding support schemes

One of the Government's broadband funding schemes has now closed but there are two others still available if you still need help to get a better connection.

The Better Broadband Scheme has now closed to new applications. This scheme had aimed to help those with the slowest speeds access a basic (10Mbps) satellite or wireless broadband connection while waiting for a fibre upgrade. It will be replaced by the Universal Service Obligation from March 2020. All existing applications will be reviewed by end of December 2019.

Anyone in need of a faster connection that is not currently in plans to receive an upgrade, can still apply for government funding via two other schemes which provide support towards the cost of installing full fibre broadband. The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) is for businesses and business-led community groups and the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme (RGVS) is for groups of rural residents or businesses.

Both gigabit schemes offer between £500 and £3,500 per address depending on eligibility. Both schemes are due to remain open until March 2021 or when the funding runs out. Government previously anticipated this could be up to a year earlier, but this is no longer the case. However, this is a nationwide scheme and proving popular so we want to ensure Essex residents and businesses don't miss out! Both schemes are supplier-led and enable you to pool together vouchers in your community to get everyone connected. 

Find out more about both schemes and eligibility criteria on our website


We're updating our enquiry system and website

The current Superfast Essex enquiries system has changed, but for the better! The new system gives you the option to create an account, which is good news for regular enquirers as it means your details will be remembered, so you’ll have less to fill in each time.

If you create an account you’ll also be able to see your contact history with Superfast Essex and other Essex County Council services in one place.

There will also now be the ability for all enquirers, whether they have an account or not, to send us attachments.

The new system went live on 13th December 2019 and can be accessed from the usual contact us link. To register for an account, follow the link to 'Contact us' and click register on the top right of the page. Enquiry responses will continue to be sent to the email address you provide. 

We’re also in the process of modifying the Superfast Essex website and have already reorganised pages and removed some content to help make the site easier to navigate and find what you need. We're doing out best to remove jargon and technical detail to make it easier to read and are currently reviewing the look and feel of the site.

If anyone has any feedback or wants to be part of a virtual focus-group to help us shape future changes, then please contact us.


Visit an Essex smart home to see how tech can help

Elizabeth, 91, from Epping lives in a smart home

Smart technology is helping to transform the lives of older people and people with disabilities in Essex - and it could help you or someone you know.

Digital Boomers has helped to install tech such as smart speakers, care tablets, video doorbells, motion sensors and panic buttons in Essex homes to support people with care needs. It is helping them to live more independently, stay living in their own home for longer, feel safer, less lonely and more in control of their own lives, and giving their families peace of mind and reassurance, particularly if they don't live nearby.

We visited three smart homes in Essex and captured their stories on film. Watch their videos and contact Digital Boomers to find out more about smart technology in the home or to arrange a visit to one of the smart homes to see the technology in action for yourself.


Essex business gets full fibre with voucher scheme

Glenn_Jacobs

Owner of Neon Digital, Glenn recently shared his broadband story with Superfast Essex and told us how slow speeds made running his business from home almost impossible.

He told us how the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme helped future-proof his web development agency by connecting his property to full fibre broadband.

If you have a story you would like to share with us, about how superfast or ultrafast broadband has helped you out at work or home, then why not get in touch? Please contact us so we can arrange a convenient time to chat.