Openreach rollout

The Superfast Essex programme is currently being delivered in several phases by two network operators, one of these is Openreach. The overall programme is set to enable 144,000 premises to access superfast broadband speeds of 30Mbps and above by December 2019.

The Superfast Essex programme began working with Openreach (formerly BT Group) to deploy superfast fibre broadband in April 2014 and work is currently expected to continue through to 2019. The infrastructure rollout involves mostly fibre-to-the-cabinet technology, but also includes some fibre-to-the-premises and exchange only line upgrades. All solutions are being introduced to provide superfast download speeds (previously defined as 24Mbps, and now defined as 30Mbps).

All work is funded by Essex County Council, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) - the team within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, responsible for the Government's national Superfast Britain programme, and a contribution from Openreach. Funding contributions have also been received from some other local councils towards particular phases of work.

To view a list of all the cabinets which have been upgraded to fibre by Openreach under the Superfast Essex programme, view our Live Cabinets page. A breakdown of the phases of work being carried out by Openreach is below.


The first phase of the rollout completed in June 2016, three months earlier than originally scheduled. The work enabled 65,000 homes and businesses in Essex to access superfast broadband meaning by the end of the phase 87% of Essex properties had been enabled.

REACH: 65,000

INVESTMENT: £24.6million


This is the current rollout, which is aiming to increase the provision of superfast connectivity across the county from 87% to 95% of Essex homes and businesses, and help contribute to achieving the Government’s ambition to get 95% of the UK connected to superfast broadband.

Phase 2 of the Superfast Essex programme has two strands to it – 'Phase 2a' and 'Phase 2b, the Rural Challenge Project', which is being delivered by Gigaclear 

Phase 2a began in June 2016, three months earlier than originally scheduled following the early completion of Phase 1, and was set to provide a further 51,000 homes and business with access to superfast broadband, extending the overall total number of properties reached to 116,000 by summer 2019. Together with the Rural Challenge Project being delivered by Gigaclear, Phase 2 would extend reach to 120,000.

In addition, Superfast Essex was able to add a further 9,000 homes and businesses to the Phase 2a rollout in June 2017 as a result of reinvestment (known as 'Gainshare') from Openreach due to higher than expected take up of the new services made available by the Superfast Essex programme. The Gainshare funding will enable fibre upgrades across parts of Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Colchester, Chelmsford and Maldon districts. In order to incorporate the additional coverage into the Phase 2a deployment plan the rollout schedule had to be remodelled. All Phase 2a plans are currently scheduled for completion by December 2019, and work remains on track. 

REACH: 51,000 + 9,000 = 60,000

INVESTMENT: £18.9million (including contributions from Braintree, Maldon and Tendring district councils) + £1.9million = £20.8million

TOTAL REACH (Phase 1, 2a, Gainshare): 125,000

TOTAL INVESTMENT: £45.4million

PHASE 3 - South East

This is the next phase of work which was confirmed with new contracts signed in June 2017. Work is due to start later in 2017 and complete within the same timeframe as Phase 2a, by December 2019 and will aim to increase the overall superfast footprint in Essex to 97%.

Phase 3 is not solely being delivered by Openreach. The rollout has been split into three areas known as 'Lots'. One of these is being delivered by Openreach. You can read about the other Lots planned under Phase 3 on the Gigaclear rollout page.

In the Openreach Lot a further 6,700 homes and businesses in the South East of Essex will be given access to superfast broadband. This Lot covers parts of Basildon and Castle Point districts, and the rural coastline of Maldon and Rochford districts.

REACH: 6,700

INVESTMENT: £5.1million

TOTAL REACH (Phase 1, 2a, Gainshare, 3-South East): 131,700

TOTAL INVESTMENT: £50.5million

OVERALL PROGRAMME SUMMARY (including Gigaclear rollout)

OVERALL PROGRAMME REACH (Phase 1, 2a, 2b, Gainshare, 3-Uttlesford, 3-Central North, 3-South East): 144,000

OVERALL PROGRAMME INVESTMENT (Phase 1, 2a, 2b, Gainshare, 3-Uttlesford, 3-Central North, 3-South East): £71million