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Gigaclear Begins FTTP Broadband Rollout in Uttlesford After Delay

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 (7:55 pm) - Score 1,232
gigaclear essex street cabinet

Despite a recent delay to Gigaclear’s state aid supported contract with the Superfast Essex (SFE) project (here), the rural UK ISP has today confirmed that some of the first homes in Uttlesford to benefit from their new 900Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network have now gone live in Birchanger.

So far Gigaclear has already completed their Phase 2B contract for SFE (4,000 premises in Epping Forest) and until a few months ago they also planned Phase 3 work (i.e. 8,300 premises in Uttlesford and Central North by Dec 2019), as well as the recently won contract for Phase 4a (2,100 premises in Epping Forest).

Unfortunately it was confirmed last year that Gigaclear’s roll-out was struggling “due to the complexity of the network build coupled with resourcing challenges“. As a result work under Phase 3 in the Uttlesford District and parts of Braintree District and Colchester Borough and Phase 4a was delayed to complete by July 2020, rather than December 2019.

On the upside Gigaclear’s delays in Essex weren’t nearly as serious as they have been in other parts of England and happily the operator has now started their deployment in Uttlesford, with 212 homes in Birchanger being among the first to benefit. Getting this far was a major task, which required the ISP’s contractor (Kier) to dig up 5.3km of carriageway, footway and verge to lay just over 6.5km of new fibre optic cable.

Drew Ritchie, COO of Gigaclear, said:

“This marks the start of a hugely exciting time for residents and businesses who live and work across the Uttlesford District. We believe passionately in the importance of digital inclusion for all, no matter how rural their chosen home or business is, and we are delighted that our network is bringing world-class broadband speeds to residents of Birchanger in partnership with Superfast Essex.

We hear time and again how an excellent internet connection can really transform lives, be it accessing important social and retail services remotely or simply keeping in touch with family members living far away.”

Gagan Mohindra, Essex Councillor for Economic Development, said:

“I’m thrilled residents can now buy ultrafast broadband in Birchanger because of Superfast Essex’s work with Gigaclear. This is the first of many cabinet areas due to be connected, meaning shortly even more Uttlesford homes and businesses will be able to benefit too.

Building a brand-new broadband network is no easy feat, but the long-term benefits to the economy and quality of home life makes it a very worthwhile project for Essex County Council to invest in.”

The £6.8 million Phase 3 contract is ultimately expected to connect a total of 4,600 properties in the Uttlesford District. Admittedly the roll-out in this area may take longer than originally planned but the delay isn’t unreasonable for such a complicated engineering 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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8 Responses
  1. Avatar AnotherTim

    But still no news on Gigaclear’s deployment in the Fastershire areas, where they have fallen much further behind. I’m eagerly awaiting news of the first property to be connected in Lot 3c (or Lot2) – although I expect to still have a while to wait as they only got the contract a bit over 2 years ago…

  2. Avatar Prog

    Hi Tim

    I contacted the build team the other day and they tell me that work should start in July for my area.
    Try giving them a ring
    Network Build Care
    01865 591 137

  3. Avatar AnotherTim

    If you are in Lot3c then I guess you must be between Westbury-on-Severn and Newnham? I know they have finally got around to installing backhaul between Minsterworth and Westbury (about 9 miles so far – in 2 years or so).
    I’m towards the far end of the A48 in Lot3c, so it will be some time before they get to me. Currently the nearest active Gigaclear connection is 22 miles by road from me.

  4. Avatar Prog

    Hi Tim

    Hopemansell

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      Is July the same date as you had before the removal of the schedule back in September? There are no roadworks shown on roadworks.org – they should usually appear 3 months before work starts, and there is no obvious existing Gigaclear infrastructure for them to connect to – they are building outwards from existing networks, so I’d expect to see roadworks along the A40 from Highnam (in the same way as they are moving down the A48).
      The latest date I’ve been given is for a start sometime early next year, with the build taking a year (all being well). Of course, every previous date I’ve been given has passed with no work being started, and given the apparent rate of progress I don’t believe they can achieve that.

  5. Avatar Prog

    It’s was originally planned for August this year but the last I spoke to them they had brought it forward to July which was unexpected.

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      That’s good news.
      We should get better visibility of the new plans when Fastershire get around to putting them on their website – they usually update it in the first week of the month, so we may know in early May…

  6. Avatar TomD

    Gigaclear have used Kier Group for the BDUK projects, but their commercial projects in Essex are still dogged by delays from using unsatisfactory smaller contractors I guess on low rates to support very thin margins. Here last month they sacked their fourth contractor in 3 years for a bad job – so it’ll take another 3 months to find yet another cheap contractor.

    Unsubsidised commercial rural FTTP perhaps just isn’t deliverable.

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