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UPD Essex UK Sign GBP25 Million BT Superfast Broadband Rollout Deal

Wednesday, Aug 14th, 2013 (7:51 am) - Score 859

The Essex County Council (ECC) in England will today become the latest UK local authority to sign a major state aid supported deal with telecoms giant BT, which will allow the operator to extend the reach of its “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network to “around” 87% of premises by the end of summer 2016 (the rest will get at least 2Mbps).

As with most of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) schemes, the one in Essex has fallen someway short of its original target, which envisaged that “at least 90% of Essex will gain access to superfast broadband … by 2015“. The old goal also required that BT roll-out a “universalminimum speed of 8Mbps by 2018.

Currently about 60% of homes and businesses in Essex have access to Superfast Broadband (25Mbps+) and as usual it’s unclear precisely what proportion of that 87% will actually get “superfast” connectivity under the Superfast Essex scheme. The figure is also well below the government’s 95% target for 2017.

Kevin Bentley, Deputy ECC Leader, said:

Now that this contract has been signed we can begin working with BT to build a full picture of the broadband requirements in Essex. These upgrades will make a real difference to Essex residents and in particular, businesses that have difficulty trading and communicating online because of slow speeds.

We want to grow our economy and create an environment for businesses to thrive and grow and better broadband is one of the ways we can help.”

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, added:

This project will see thousands of homes and businesses across Essex gain access to superfast broadband speeds and will be instrumental in driving growth, boosting the local economy, and achieving the Government’s objective of reaching 95% of UK premises by 2017.”

The official press release has yet to grace our inbox (indeed the contract signing event hasn’t occurred yet) and so we don’t yet know what the final funding allocations will be or when work is expected to start. But, with an end date of summer 2016, this is surely one of the most delay afflicted BDUK schemes so far. We’ll update again once the full details have been released.

UPDATE 9:29am

Here we go. BT is contributing £11.7m towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas, while ECC has committed £6.46m and another £6.46m will be coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office.

BTOpenreach engineers will now begin their usual pre-deployment survey work and then the first premises are currently expected to be upgraded by June 2014.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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