The £9million contract signed by Essex County Council and BT Group will ensure superfast speeds of 30Mbps and above are made available to an extra 5,400 homes and businesses in the district by March 2020.
The public funding includes a contribution of £250,000 from Tendring District Council, matched by a new grant from the UK Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, with the remainder of the public investment provided by Essex County Council from project savings.
Work will start in late 2018 and will take place in parallel to existing fibre broadband rollout plans by Superfast Essex. The additional coverage will lift superfast broadband availability in Tendring District to more than 98% by early 2020, making the area one of the best-served areas in Essex.
This contract award completes the procurement for the final Lot put out to tender as part of the Superfast Essex programme’s Phase 3 earlier this year. Three other contracts within this Phase were awarded to BT Group and Gigaclear in June.
Photo (L-R): Essex County Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Project Manager for Openreach Rowena D'Rosario, Superfast Essex Programme Manager Connie Kerbst, Tendring District Council Leader Cllr Neil Stock
Essex County Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Skills, Infrastructure and the Digital Economy, said: “The Superfast Essex programme has made great achievements in extending the superfast footprint across Essex and this latest investment will bring connectivity in Tendring District in line with the rest of the county. Essex County Council is committed to making Essex one of the best connected counties in the UK and is continuing to do all it can to help achieve this.”
Superfast Essex has so far reached more than 95,000 Essex homes and businesses with superfast broadband, and in addition to this new contract, plans are already in place to take this to 144,000 by December 2019 - helping enable economic growth and improve lives with better online access to public services.
A number of local councils in Essex are co-funding the County Council’s programme. Tendring District Council is now contributing for a second time, following its previous investment of £164,000 in Superfast Essex Phase 2.
Councillor Neil Stock OBE, Leader of Tendring District Council, said: “As Leader of the Council I made a commitment to delivering superfast broadband to every property in the district as soon as possible and have been working long and hard with our partners to achieve this.
“I am absolutely delighted to be taking this decision, which will deliver 98% coverage. I hope that work can begin very rapidly on delivering this as superfast broadband connection is a key part of everyday life for residents and businesses.”
Other councils which have contributed to the Superfast Essex programme include Braintree, Maldon, Epping Forest, and Uttlesford districts.
Once all currently planned work is complete, Superfast Essex expects that around 97% of all addresses in the county will have access to superfast broadband. Essex County Council is already in the process of commissioning its Phase 4 rollout programme, which will aim to reach near 100% superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2021.
Rowena D’Rosario, Project Manager for Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network, said: “Increasingly, fibre has become the ‘must have’ technology for families and businesses, which is why we’re working hard to make it available to as many people as possible, even in the most remote parts of Essex.
“It’s particularly important to have access to high-speed broadband at this time of the year when many of us use the internet more than usual for leisure and entertainment. Having high-speed broadband can make online shopping and ‘click and collect’ services quick and convenient, and staying in touch with loved ones abroad much easier.”
To find out if your property is due to be upgraded as part of the Superfast Essex programme’s rollout plans, check the Superfast Essex interactive map which displays address level information: www.superfastessex.org/maps.
Anyone not currently due for an upgrade can register their demand for faster broadband by completing the Make the Connection Survey: www.superfastessex.org/registerdemand.