Even more residents and businesses stand to gain access to superfast broadband thanks to a new ‘Phase 3’ rollout being planned as part of the Superfast Essex programme.
The new work aims to extend the superfast footprint across Essex beyond the 95% coverage target which is set to be achieved by the Phase 2 work currently underway with BT and Gigaclear.
The £51million Superfast Essex programme finished its Phase 1 rollout to 65,000 homes and businesses three months ahead of schedule back in June, of which nearly 30% of customers have so far purchased a service. Engineers from both delivery partners are now in the process of delivering the programme’s Phase 2a and 2b rollouts to increase the total number of homes and businesses able to access superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above to 120,000.
Phase 3 will help some of those homes and businesses in the remaining 5% of the county not currently due to be reached by any superfast broadband coverage plans. The technology to be used is yet to be determined, and will be chosen based on which solution will work best for the areas requiring better connectivity.
The decision to proceed with the £9million Phase 3 rollout, funded by project savings, the re-investment of subsidy clawback due to high take-up of the services so far and some local authority contributions, was approved by Essex County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 20 September.
The areas to be covered by the rollout will be determined following a Phase 3 State Aid Public Consultation which is currently underway inviting feedback about where broadband coverage does and does not exist in Essex. The consultation details and link to respond are available on the Superfast Essex website at: http://www.superfastessex.org/where,whenandhow.aspx. The consultation closes at midnight on Wednesday 12th October.
Essex County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Partnerships, Cllr Kevin Bentley, said: “This is great news for the county. While broadband provision is not a statutory requirement, the County Council’s continued to commitment to improve the level of broadband coverage in Essex shows that we recognise broadband availability is becoming increasingly important for residents and businesses and it is for that reason one of our priorities.
“I urge residents and businesses to respond to the consultation and to register their demand via the Make the Connection survey to increase their chance of being included in Phase 3.”
In order to plan where the Phase 3 investment should be spent, Superfast Essex asked broadband operators to respond to an Open Market Review in July advising of their existing broadband coverage and plans over the next three years. Based on this data, Superfast Essex created a draft map of broadband coverage which is the subject of the Superfast Essex Phase 3 State Aid Public Consultation. All white areas shown on the map remain eligible for investment.
Alongside responding to the consultation, residents and businesses are encouraged to register their demand for faster broadband via the Make the Connection survey at www.superfastessex.org/registerdemand also by Wednesday 12th October. Responses to both the consultation and Make the Connection survey will be used to help inform the Phase 3 rollout plan. While the survey will continue to remain open beyond the date stated, any demand registered after this time will be too late to inform the Phase 3 plan. Procurement of a delivery partner for Phase 3 is expected to start in November with delivery contracts awarded in May 2017.
Find out if broadband is already available or planned to be made available to your postcode by checking the Superfast Essex interactive map at www.superfastessex.org/maps. If broadband coverage is available, remember nobody is automatically connected and to contact a broadband service provider and ask to switch to a fibre broadband package. Some providers are listed at www.superfastessex.org/providers.