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Openreach Secure Phase 4a Essex UK Superfast Broadband Rollout

Monday, July 23rd, 2018 (11:42 am) - Score 1,553
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The Essex County Council (ECC) has awarded Openreach (BT) with a £3.4m contract to rollout “superfast broadband” (FTTC/P) ISP networks to cover an additional 3,100 premises in the UK county, which includes 1,500 in the borough of Basildon and 1,600 in the district of Braintree.

At present around 93% of premises in Essex can already access a “superfast fibre broadband” (30Mbps+) network – mostly via FTTC (VDSL2) and a bit of FTTP – which includes 106,000 homes and businesses (expected to reach 149,400 by March 2020 – excluding Phase 4’s additions) that have benefited as a direct result of the state aid supported Superfast Essex project.

So far BT and Gigaclear have both picked up various contracts in Phase 1, 2 and 3 of the programme. Altogether it’s currently expected that local coverage of superfast broadband will reach around 97% by December 2019 and Essex council has made no secret of their desire to get as close to 100% as possible by 2021.

Last year we reported that plans for a future Phase 4 contract were also being designed (here), which would be partly funded by “project savings and subsidy refunds” from earlier contracts (public funding reinvestment via clawback / gainshare). On top of that the local councils and Broadband Delivery UK were also expected to contribute, potentially reaching an overall total pot of c.£29m.

Today’s announcement reflects the first Phase 4a contract award and at £3.4m it’s smaller than expected; although a second “stream” (i.e. another contract under Phase 4a) will be announced later this month. We note that Braintree’s council will contribute £356,000 to the 4a budget and £250,000 will come from Basildon’s local authority.

Lesley Wagland, Essex County Councillor, said:

“It is great to see how much the Superfast Essex programme has already achieved and to have the support of these two districts and the commitment from Openreach to deliver even more. We are concentrating on filling as many of the remaining gaps in coverage across Essex as possible.”

Tom Cunningham, Braintree District Councillor, said:

“Braintree District is a great place to do business and we have lots of fantastic businesses in the district already but we want to continue to improve what the area has to offer businesses and their workforce. We’re well connected in terms of location and connectivity but we know how important it is to invest further.

That’s why we’ve invested an additional £356,000 to reach 99% of the district with a focus on rural areas, making the Braintree District one of the most future-proofed and digitally connected areas in Essex for residents and businesses with download speeds of more than 30Mbps”.

Unfortunately the press release isn’t clear about what the technology split will be. Otherwise the deployment stage for Phase 4a is set to be delivered between October 2019 and September 2020 and we’ll keep our eyes open for the forthcoming Phase 4a Stream 2 announcement. The Superfast Essex project also has one of the best interactive rollout maps available for a BDUK supported project.

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Mark Jackson
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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6 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    It will be more FTTC superfarce, you can bet your sweet bippy, despite promises from the government announcement today that copper is going to be phased out, they are still deploying this obsolete technology and still branding it as ‘fibre’.

    • Avatar GNewton

      The Essex Superfast Broadband has been a farce, they hide behind dubious confidentiality clauses, like so many other BDUK projects. The monies would have been better spent on the NHS or other vital services like local Ambulances, schools, more surgeries, road repairs etc.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      And what, just leave them without access to faster speeds? How lovely!

  2. Avatar A Builder

    At some point quite soon there won’t be much viable FTTC left to be done.

    None the less I am surprised that we are not hearing more of what % FTTP is being done in these rollouts. Maybe just getting this % reported would up the attention level. It is the usual management consultant spiel that when you directly measure things they start to improve. Maybe just getting this reported (simple OFCOM actions?) would start to make sense. At some point the end of the gain share on BDUK will start to go into FTTP on a more widespread basis: I appreciate that in some areas it already has.

    There also needs to be some modelling work done centrally to help LA’s use the long tail of the BDUK money for FTTP and help them make sense of the various cost models involved. If the long tail is used to get as much (number of users) of the non commercially viable rural FTTP built as possible that would be a great use for the money.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      There has been little appetite to discuss the upside sitting in the £536m Capital Deferral and the underspends available to every county.
      INfrastructure Commission, Ofcom (B-USO) work and the latest effort by DCMS avoid discussing the full potential of the upside.
      It will be interesting to see how much money BT report as returned to LA’s this quarter. I think the statement is due this week. Q4 2017/18 for the first time reported a discrete £2m or £4m returned depending on which page you believe.

  3. Avatar Dect

    Superfast Essex are a complete joke, they have spent the last few years picking the low hanging fruit (Phases 1,2 and 3) and have managed to get some Essex residents up to 24Mb and are now going back to bring those same Residents up to 30Mb with the latest funds, sadly those of us with the poorest broadband in Essex are simply ignored.

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