The rollout of superfast fibre broadband in Essex has received high praise from the Government, who described Essex County Council’s partnership with BT as “exemplar”, as the project qualified early for a £1.9 million ‘success dividend’
The praise for the Superfast Essex programme came during a regular review between the three key funding partners, Essex County Council, BT, and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) – the team within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport overseeing the national broadband rollout. The programme is being delivered ahead of schedule and will provide superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of Essex by 2019.
Already 20 per cent of the 56,000 homes and businesses given access to superfast broadband under the Superfast Essex programme have chosen to take-up the high-speed technology – and the number is continuing to grow. Reaching the 20 per cent take up figure has triggered the contractual success dividend from BT, meaning the programme now has a further £1.9 million to re-invest to extend the superfast rollout to additional areas.
The programme’s original expectation was to reach the 20 per cent mark in early 2018. Achieving this milestone over two years earlier means the broadband investment will earn a return sooner than planned. The County Council’s extensive programme of communications activities, which included programme updates, social media and engagement events, was recognised as the key factor in driving take up of services.
The Essex programme was also praised for its positive working relationship between BT and Essex Highways ensuring engineering work flow has remained steady; and for BT maintaining an open and constructive approach with Essex County Council.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Superfast Essex is delivering great results, providing an additional 56,000 homes and businesses across the county access to superfast speeds. Essex County Council's working relationship with BT is proving to be an exemplar across the national programme, and I'd encourage other projects to look at learning from their approach."
Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said: “We have been able to deliver broadband to more people, faster than planned. This is one of the best results in the country and the good working relationship between us and BT is a key element of this success. This means we are now able to invest further, reaching even more homes and businesses in Essex with this key technology.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director next generation access, said: “The fibre broadband roll-out is a real success story and we’re delighted to be able to share that success with Essex by making £1.9 million available to help connect some of the hardest to reach homes and businesses. Superfast Essex has done a great job in helping to drive take-up of fibre, and have reached the 20 per cent target two years early. We welcome the recognition of our strong partnership and we’ll continue to work closely with Essex to ensure we reach as many premises as possible with the investment available.”
The rollout of superfast fibre broadband in Essex has now reached 56,000 homes and businesses and is on track to extend this to 120,000 by 2019. To find out if you are in the 95 per cent due to be covered, check the Superfast Essex interactive map: www.superfastessex.org/maps. Anyone not currently in the plan can register their demand for faster broadband by completing the Make the Connection survey on the Superfast Essex website: www.superfastessex.org/getinvolved.