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Essex UK Targets “at least” 97% Superfast Broadband Coverage by 2020

Friday, November 11th, 2016 (12:19 pm) - Score 478

The Superfast Essex project in England, which is working with Openreach (BT) and Gigaclear to roll-out “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) networks to 95% of the county by 2019, yesterday put out a new tender for their future Phase 3 roll-out that will aim to push coverage to 97% by 2020.

At present Phase 1 has already expanded the reach of “superfast fibre broadband” (FTTC and some FTTP) to 65,000 additional homes and businesses within Essex, while Phase 2a + 2b are already underway and aim to extend that coverage to a total of 120,000 premises (i.e. the 95% target for mid-2019).

Meanwhile Phase 3 is set to be supported by £3m of “savings” from Phases 1 and 2, as well as £2.2m from Tendring District Council and £2.2m from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme.

On top of that we also know that £1.9m will be returned via BT’s Phase 1 + 2 clawback due to high take-up of the service, plus the council has authorised the drawdown of £195,000 revenue from the transformation reserve for Superfast Essex Phase 3 (this will be used to drive demand and take-up). Overall about 24,000 extra premises should benefit from the third phase.

Superfast Essex Update

Superfast Essex has now invited broadband network operators across the UK to bid for the Phase 3 work across Essex.

The tender for the new rollout was launched on Thursday 10 November and the requirement has been split into four separate zones, known as ‘Lots’.

Across the four Lots, an estimated 24,000 premises are eligible for inclusion in the Phase 3 rollout. The actual number of properties to be included will be determined during the procurement process. The lots are split as follows:

* Uttlesford District – 5,500 premises. One of the most rural districts in the county with significantly poor connectivity.

* Central North – 4,500 premises. This includes parts of Braintree, Colchester and Chelmsford districts.

* Tendring District – 5,500 premises. To help Tendring District reach 100% superfast broadband coverage.

* South East – 8,500 premises. This includes rural areas along the coastline of Maldon and Rochford districts and parts of Castle Point and Basildon districts.

According to data from Thinkbroadband, some 87.5% of Essex can already order a superfast broadband connection and so there’s clearly still a long way left to go; hence the abnormally late completion dates for Phases 2 and 3. Apparently the total contract length for Phase 3 is ten years, which we assume reflects future maintenance as well as the roll-out.

As a side note we see that the council are seeking to “drive service take-up to reach 50%,” which could be good news for clawback if it can be achieved. So far all of this appears to be in keeping with BDUK’s expectation of 97-98% coverage for the UK by the end of 2019 or thereabouts.

Mind you the 97% target for Essex must be considered an aspirational one until the suppliers have been chosen, which can sometimes result in an adjustment to the expectation.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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