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Rural areas to benefit from extension of Essex superfast broadband rollout

Wednesday, March 25th 2015 by Dean Reilly

The second phase of a broadband rollout in Essex will bring superfast speeds to rural areas, the local authority has announced.

The multi-million pound investment in superfast broadband for an extra 51,000 homes and businesses was confirmed yesterday by Essex County Council.

The deal sees the contract to deliver ‘Phase 2’ of the Superfast Essex programme awarded to BT, subject to approval from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

The current first phase of the rollout is on track to enable 65,000 premises in Essex to access superfast broadband by the middle of 2016.

Phase 2 is expected to enable a further 51,000 premises in rural Essex for superfast broadband, with a draft plan of the latest rollout expected to be published in May.

The overall Superfast Essex programme aims to enable up to 95% of premises in Essex to access superfast broadband with speeds of at least 24Mbps.

Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic growth and infrastructure, said: “Essex aspires to become one of the best connected counties in the UK and this is the next step in helping us to achieve this aim.”

Mr Bentley said he was very pleased that some districts in Essex have recognised how important it is to invest in broadband infrastructure in their rural areas.

He added: “Braintree, Tendring, Maldon and Epping Forest have all contributed to the funding for this next stage of our Superfast Essex programme, which means that across those districts we will be investing over a million pounds more than we could have without their support.”

'Exciting technology'

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for Next Generation Access, said: “We are pleased to have been selected as the preferred partner for this project.

"This project will build upon the success of both our own commercial rollout in the county as well as our existing partnership with Essex County Council.

“We look forward to extending this exciting technology even further to bring the benefits of fibre broadband to even more parts of the county. We will be working closely with Essex County Council to complete the signing of the contract.”

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The Superfast Essex Programme has already made tremendous progress in rolling out superfast broadband across the county.

“I'm delighted that this additional funding from UK and local government means that another 51,000 Essex homes and businesses are now going to have access to superfast speeds.”

More than 25,000 Essex premises have been enabled to access superfast broadband so far, with over 100 green cabinets across the county upgraded to fibre by the Superfast Essex programme.

Over the course of the programme, engineers from Openreach – BT's local access network business – will lay more than 900,000m of cables and install more than 400 broadband cabinets across the county.

Colchester, Braintree and Harlow were the first locations in Essex to benefit from the Superfast Essex broadband rollout in June 2014.

BDUK are set to consider awarding the contract later this week, with work on Phase 2 to begin later in the year.

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