Superfast Essex

The Rural Challenge Project (Phase 2b)

The Rural Challenge is a project that is bringing ultrafast broadband to rural communities in Essex. Essex County Council signed the delivery contract for the project to ultrafast fibre broadband operator Gigaclear plc in June 2015.

The Rural Challenge Project is part of the Superfast Essex broadband rollout programme, which is already set to enable 116,000 premises across Essex to access broadband speeds of 24Mbps or more by 2019, under a delivery contract with BT deploying predominantly Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology.

The new project  (bringing the total number of premises enabled by the Superfast Essex programme to 120,000) will be implemented alongside the Superfast Essex rollout being delivered by BT and is designed to test alternative ways of bringing superfast connectivity to rural communities and businesses.

Gigaclear will deploy Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology to around 4,000 properties within the pilot area in Epping Forest District, enabling these homes and businesses access to broadband speeds of 50Mbps and up to 1000Mbps.

The Rural Challenge Project pilot will focus on the east of Epping Forest District. Homes and businesses within the intervention area in the following five parishes (nine locations) will be able to access ultrafast broadband speeds: Fyfield, Stapleford Tawney, Ongar, Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers (Magdalen Laver, High Laver, Little Laver), and Theydon Mount.

Some homes and businesses in the following 13 parishes will also benefit: High Ongar, Willingale, Abbess Beauchamp and Berners Roding, Stapleford Abbotts, Stanford Rivers, Matching, North Weald Bassett, Lambourne, Theydon Garnon, Sheering, Epping Upland, Theydon Bois and Chigwell.

We have updated our interactive map to show the areas in the east of Epping Forest District covered the Rural Challenge Project.

The project will begin in November 2015 with the first customers in the Epping Forest District intervention area expected to be enabled to gain access to the new broadband services by Christmas 2015. The fibre network will be installed underground to protect it from the elements with no poles or wires or masts. The project is expected to be completed by Spring 2017.

The £7.5m project is part-funded by UK Government, Essex County Council, Epping Forest District Council and Gigaclear. Once this project is completed, and subject to further funding being identified, Superfast Essex will consider expanding this approach to other rural areas in Essex not yet included in current plans.

We have also updated our FAQs to include the Rural Challenge Project, please scroll to the bottom section of the FAQs for the Rural Challenge section.

To find out if you will be covered by the project and to register for direct updates from Gigaclear visit

To find out about Gigaclear's upcoming community Q&A events click here

Installation of fibre cabinets and cables 

Please click on the link below to read our information brochure on the installation of fibre cabinets and cables in your community.  

SuperfastEssexReInstatementBrochure LR.pdf