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New culture secretary ‘delighted’ by Essex superfast broadband rollout

Monday, May 18th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Newly-appointed culture secretary John Whittingdale has marked a milestone in the rollout of superfast broadband in his Essex constituency.

Mr Whittingdale (pictured) met the Superfast Essex team as the rollout in the county reached its halfway point of 32,500 homes and businesses that can now get superfast broadband.

The programme is expected to have enabled 65,000 premises by the end of its first phase in summer 2016.

Culture secretary Mr Whittingdale, whose portfolio covers the rollout of superfast broadband, joined Essex County Council and BT representatives in Maldon, Essex, on Friday where he heard about the Superfast Essex programme and met officers leading the work.

He was also shown one of the 157 fibre broadband cabinets installed by the programme since deployment began in April 2014.

“I am delighted at the tremendous progress Superfast Essex has made with their rollout of superfast broadband,” he said.

“Access to superfast speeds has never been more important, in both our home and working lives.

“The government’s rollout of superfast broadband will make sure that rural homes and businesses are not left behind and that the UK is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age.”

The Essex programme’s milestone comes as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that more than 2.5m homes and businesses in the country can now access superfast broadband thanks to the government’s £1.7bn investment programme.

'A great accolade'

Mr Whittingdale was welcomed to Essex by county councillor Penny Channer, deputy cabinet member for economic growth & infrastructure and waste and recycling.

She said: “It is a great accolade for Essex to receive national recognition for the success of the county’s broadband rollout and a pleasure to welcome the secretary of state and have the support acknowledged in person.

“Credit goes to the joint efforts of the team working here in Essex for reaching the halfway milestone. Long may the great work continue through the rest of this rollout and into the next phase.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s Next Generation Access managing director, added: “Working in partnership with Essex County Council we have been able to reach into the heart of scores of communities across the county that have so far been beyond the reach of this vital technology.

“The partnership builds on BT’s commercial fibre broadband programme, which has already made fibre broadband available to more than 581,000 households and businesses in the county.

“Already we can see the impact that fibre is having nationally with the Government’s estimate of more than 56,000 jobs created as a result of this rollout by 2024 and rural economies benefiting by around £9m every day due to the work being done now.”

Phase 2 of the Superfast Essex programme, which aims to increase coverage across the county to 95%, is currently being planned.

In March Cable.co.uk reported that the second phase is expected to bring superfast broadband to an extra 51,000 homes and businesses.

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