New superfast broadband milestone reached as future planning gets underway

Superfast broadband connectivity has reached a new high in Essex – as planning gets underway for the next phase of work.

More than 10,000 homes and businesses in Greater Essex have been enabled to access superfast broadband as a result of the Superfast Essex programme. Now Essex County Council is assessing where the next rollout phase of the broadband programme (known as Phase 2) needs to go.

The latest milestone represents a sixth of the overall connections expected from the current two-year implementation programme. It comes as Essex County Council launches a public consultation today (Thursday, 16 October) about the area which will form the basis of the second rollout phase.

Over the next four weeks broadband providers and members of the public have the opportunity to comment on the proposed ‘White Area’, which will be used to design the broadband network extension for Phase 2. The purpose of the consultation is to make sure the map is accurate and invite comments about the scope that has been identified.

The current programme, combined with the commercial rollout, is working to make superfast broadband available to over 87% of Essex premises by the end of summer 2016. Phase 2 aims to take superfast broadband coverage in Essex up to 95%, using new public investment of up to £13m. It will help to contribute to achieving the Government’s ambition to get 95% of the UK connected to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.

Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure, said: “The current programme is on track and progressing well. More than 55,000 further homes and businesses are already on the list to be enabled to receive superfast broadband speeds and we’re pleased to be increasing this further still with Phase 2.

“Broadband is fast becoming seen as the fourth utility and it is important we rise to this and equip as many more of our residents and businesses as possible with improved connectivity as soon as we can.”

To help ensure the new public investment is targeted in the correct areas, the County Council has defined the “White Area” using information obtained from broadband suppliers through an Open Market Review about their existing broadband provision and plans over the next three years.

The White Area does not represent the area of Phase 2 deployment. It represents where improved broadband infrastructure is required. From the White Area, we will identify where the public investment for Phase 2 will be spent.

Broadband providers and members of the public can view the detailed consultation document and ways to respond via this link.

The consultation will close at noon on Monday 17th November. The County Council will consider all responses from broadband suppliers before finalising the Intervention Area. General comments from the public will also be taken into account during subsequent work to plan the implementation of Phase 2, which is expected to start deployment in 2015.