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557 Premises in Braintree Get UK ISP Gigaclear’s 1Gbps Broadband

Monday, October 14th, 2019 (2:22 pm) - Score 1,737

Full fibre UK ISP Gigaclear has announced that 557 premises in Great Saling and Panfield, both within the Braintree District of Essex, can now access their Gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network as a result of both the state aid supported Superfast Essex contract (Phase 3) and their separate commercial roll-out.

Overall it’s understood that a total of 514 homes and 43 businesses have benefited from the work (half via their commercial deployment), which in most cases will boost the local connectivity from sub-10Mbps USO levels and give them the option of ordering up to 900Mbps+ (average broadband speeds).

The work in Great Saling and Panfield is part of the Superfast Essex (SFE) Phase 3 rollout which is set to reach more than 3,700 premises across 19 communities in the Central North of Essex, including parts of Braintree District and the Borough of Colchester, by December 2021. The £6m contract is funded by combined investment from Gigaclear, Essex County Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The work is very welcome; although we have to caveat that the Phase 3 project has still suffered significant delays. “All work under Phase 3 of the Superfast Essex programme by Gigaclear is now due to complete by December 2021,” said SFE during the summer (here) and that compares with the original completion target of December 2019. Bitter-sweet but at least there is progress.

Tony Smith, Gigaclear’s Regional General Manager (East of England), said:

“We are delighted to have arrived in Braintree with our full fibre technology. Poor broadband speeds are not something that households and businesses should have to deal with anymore, no matter how rural they are. The Gigaclear network is bringing life-changing broadband speeds to Braintree in partnership with Superfast Essex and we can’t wait to roll it out in more regions in the coming months.”

Essex County Councillor Lesley Wagland, SFE Steering Board Chairman, said:

“This is excellent news for these two communities in Braintree District and a great milestone for Gigaclear and the Superfast Essex programme to have achieved. We want to help as many rural residents and businesses as possible to have better access to online services and opportunities and the ultrafast speeds available from Gigaclear will make a tremendous difference. We look forward to even more of the Gigaclear network going live.”

In fairness Gigaclear’s original deployment targets always seemed too optimistic. As an example, to connect the small rural village of Panfield they had to dig a vast trench of more than 11.5km in length to run the new fibre. In Great Saling, more than 30km of digging took place. The time and money required to do this sort of work is not to be underestimated.

Locals interested in finding out more about Gigaclear’s ongoing build can attend one of two upcoming community events. The Great Saling event will take place on 22nd October, from 7pm until 9pm, at The Salings Millennium Hall. The Panfield event will be held on 24th October, from 7pm to 9pm, at Panfield Village Hall.

Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT says:

    A couple of hundred premises needing an 11.5km dig to reach at all is incredible. Either the subsidies these guys are receiving are immense or they are spending a massive amount per premises passed.

    1. Avatar Marty says:

      I’d go with option one. They wouldn’t go down the B4RN route to get volunteers to dig the trenches for them. Incredible though all the same.

    2. Avatar Fastman says:

      this is not rual Lancashire where there are lots of farms this is Essex

      you cant dig in the highway and its prob a mix of both

    3. Avatar Jonny says:

      Is there a reason why these rural build-outs aren’t delivered via poles? Is there a general opposition to aerial fibre from the people who live in these places?

    4. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      I don’t think Gigaclear use poles. The way they seem to build their networks is to daisy-chain cabinets, so this 11km build is probably on the way to the next area so will (indirectly) serve a lot more than the current number of properties.
      I’m currently >20km away from the nearest Gigaclear network, but they are heading my way slowly…

    5. Avatar MrNew says:


      Totally agree with you about the 11.5km dig and the official statement about this deployment implies that as well.

    6. Avatar beany says:

      We all look for to you moaning about the service when it does reach you in the next year or so AnotherTim just as much as you have moaned about it not reaching you for the prior year or so. 😉

    7. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      @beany, hopefully their network will reach me within a couple of years. I need the extra bandwidth to download all your rantings. I’m not sure 1Gbps will be enough…

    8. Avatar TomD says:

      Chatting with local broadband champions in teh Braintree district I got the impression it was all a bit confused. They thought Gigaclear are laying to the furthest properties and will then branch off to cover the intervening properties (many of which are commercial).
      They have come to some sort of compromise with BDUK to cover the hardest-to-reach so long as they can build commercially off that infrastructure.

    9. Avatar CarlT says:

      I should mention use of the word ‘incredible’ wasn’t a compliment. I have no idea how they can be planning on making money any time soon digging for those distances to install a cabinet serving a matter of hundreds of premises.

      It’s not like they are microducting it either.

      The payback period they are looking at must be immense.

      I strongly suspect they’ll be acquired at some point.

    10. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      I believe Gigaclear do use microducting, at least from cabinets to premises. According to the documents on their website they don’t blow fibre to each premises until they get an order for FTTP. I’m not sure whether their trunk fibres are ducted or not.

    11. Avatar beany says:

      “@beany, hopefully their network will reach me within a couple of years. I need the extra bandwidth to download all your rantings. I’m not sure 1Gbps will be enough”

      You best hope they never introduce fair use clauses if you love reading from me that much then 😉

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