Former Chignal St James Parish Councillor, Steve Middleditch found running his graphic design business from home increasingly hard with his slow broadband speeds of under 2Mbps. Sending finished work to clients and downloading images was becoming almost impossible.

“Sometimes I’d tell a client that work would be with them in 30 minutes and then the connection would drop out and I’d be back to square one” said Steve.

Having to turn down jobs from prospective clients due to his slow speeds, Steve decided to get in touch with Superfast Essex and volunteered to become a Broadband Champion for his community Chignal St James and neighbouring Chignal Smealy. This involved him attending Superfast Essex Engagement events, where he found out the latest updates on the Superfast Essex fibre broadband rollout and what was happening next in the programme, which he could then relay back at  Chignal St James Parish Council meetings. Steve would often take along leaflets and talk to other residents, encouraging them to register their demand with Superfast Essex.

Superfast Essex was able to help Steve by setting up a community meeting with a representative from Openreach, who clarified information for the residents about the upcoming Superfast Essex rollout and the proposed timescales. Steve’s property was upgraded to superfast broadband in July 2018, enabling access to speeds of 55Mbps.

Working from home is so much easier for Steve now he is able to upload and download large files easily. “Superfast broadband has enabled me to take on other work which I would usually steer away from,” said Steve.

The uplift in speeds has also allowed Steve and his wife to shop online, Skype cousins in Australia and complete tax returns online for their rental properties. Buffering has become a thing of the past and Steve is able to stream the shows that he wants to watch without interruptions.  

Steve still continues to volunteer as a Broadband Champion, acting as the ‘go to’ person in his village for anything broadband-related. This includes encouraging his fellow residents to take-up the service and informing them of how superfast speeds can improve their day-to-day lives. One lady in the village who he helped get connected can now Skype her daughter in Devon, meaning feelings of isolation are no more.

When asked if he’d recommend getting superfast broadband, Steve said “A lot of people say they don’t want it, but I personally have found it vital for doing work, watching films and shopping online."

If you're a business or resident struggling with your broadband speeds, like Steve was, check if you're in plans to be upgraded to superfast speeds using the Superfast Essex rollout map: www.superfastessex.org/maps.

If your property is not yet in the programme’s plans, you can register your demand for faster broadband and sign up to receive our Quarterly Programme Update at: www.superfastessex.org/registerdemand.