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Essex agrees to sign phase 2 contract with BT for more superfast broadband
Wednesday 25 March 2015 11:08:52 by Andrew Ferguson

Essex County Council has just signed its phase 2 superfast broadband contract with BT (subject to BDUK approval apparently) and this multi-million pound contract has the aim of enabling 'up to 95% of premises in Essex to gain access to superfast broadband (determined as download speeds of 24Mbps and above)'.

The press release is a little light on precise details for the new contract, but the mention of 51,000 premises likely to benefit from the new contract does make sense. The phase 1 contract has so far benefited 25,000 premises with an eventual target of 65,000 premises by summer 2016. The press release does sometimes skip between fibre based and superfast superlatives so it is not fully clear if the number of premises is at over 24 Mbps or any speed via a fibre based (FTTC) solution. Another thing we would urge caution on is the use of 'up to 95%' in the press release, someone may have used political wording to hide a lower contracted figure.

As usual we have avoided the vagueness of the press releases and looking at the data we have for the county of Essex we can reveal how things stand currently. The only real stated aim for the phase 1 contract was 87% coverage of fibre based broadband, so superfast coverage was always going to be lower.

thinkbroadband calculation of current fibre, superfast and new USO broadband coverage in Essex - March 2015
Council Area % fibre based % superfast (>30 Mbps) % cable % Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 10 Mbps (new USO)
Essex County (combined) 81.6% 77.2% 34.4% 0% 1% 1.5%
Basildon District 95.6% 92.3% 59.6% 0% 0.9% 4%
Braintree District 65.4% 55.2% 0% 0% 2.4% 14.3%
Brentwood District 84.5% 80.2% 0% 0% 0.7% 7.7%
Castle Point District 96.6% 93% 41.4% 0% 2.1% 3.3%
Chelmsford District 86.4% 82.6% 44.1% 0% 1.3% 6.7%
Colchester District 83.5% 79.6% 55.4% 0% 0.3% 8%
Epping Forest District 85% 81.4% 64.8% 0% 1.5% 8.8%
Harlow District 98.4% 97% 89.3% 0% 0.5% 1.7%
Maldon 48.5% 43.3% 0% 0% 0.5% 17.2%
Rochford 87.5% 82.9% 0% 0% 0.1% 3.6%
Southend-on-Sea 97.1% 96.4% 59.7% 0% 0.1% 0.3%
Tendring District 77% 73.9% 0% 0% 0.8% 6.7%
Thurrock 94.3% 90.2% 70% 0% 1.1% 1.8%
Uttlesford District 48.8% 42.4% 19% 0% 1.4% 25.4%

Correction 20th November 2015 A bug in how premises were allocated to the different district councils was found and therefore we have applied the correction to older historical news items too, so that people can track the historical progress as accurately as possible. This only affected district councils.

The story varies greatly across Essex with the district councils of Uttlesford and Maldon being two areas with the most scope for improvement. Chunks of Essex does have fixed wireless access available from a number of operators so the gaps may not be as big as they look if people are willing to look around and buy from names other than the big three or four who advertise on TV.

The Universal Service Obligation figure is new for this week and follows on from the announcement in the Budget for a proposed 5 Mbps USO. In theory as the fibre roll-outs continue this figure should drop further, though of course for those who the roll-outs have not helped the statistic is of little comfort since if you are in the 0.1% without a 5 Mbps service you are still unable to what many others consider to be normal for a broadband connection in 2015.


Posted by otester over 2 years ago
I've noticed BT seem to be conveniently missing cabinets with businesses connected to them...
Posted by MCM999 over 2 years ago
@otester Cabinets serving predominantly business areas tend to have many less lines than those serving residential neighbourhoods and therefore often considered by BT to be "commercially unviable" albeit the FTTC take up by businesses is likely to be much higher than by domestic users.
Posted by otester over 2 years ago
@MCM999 I originally thought that, but when I checked the number is quite considerable on the particular cabinet I am referring to especially when compared to others surrounding it that have been done.
Posted by MCM999 over 2 years ago
@otester. In which case I haven't a clue as to why the cabinet has been missed however are we talking here of BDUK or BT commercial funding? BT tend not to commercially enable cabs with less than 250-300 lines, if not more. BDUK enable cabs or install FTTP where the numbers are far less although in phase 1 tend to invest where the bang for the buck is greatest.
Posted by otester over 2 years ago

It appears that BT picked cabinets it didn't want to do, and the left the others to BDUK, presumably knowing that BDUK would pay for them, they then switched to building them leaving the cabinets they didn't want to do, for last or maybe not at all if they can avoid it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Even if the 2/3rds commercial roll-out was done in a 100% fair way, then around 1 in 3 cabinets serving businesses would not be enabled. So finding examples they've skipped is not unusual at all.
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago

can you please give the percentage of sub 2Mbps lines as this is more relevant to the BDUK contracts than some USO which may never ever be implemented?
Posted by fastman over 2 years ago
commercial roll primairy residential -- most commerical cab in excess of ciat 200 + premuses -- most business partk around 30 premises per cab - if BDUK doe business park as priortiy that is expoensive and will redude the % coverage in a county (possibly up to3 -4% of coverage) so in BDUK it either wan you ger for the money -r od these first and then do whats left -- that has impications
Posted by fastman over 2 years ago
essex prioritised busiess parks as priority
Posted by ValueforMoney over 2 years ago
Did openreach offer FTTP at those business parks where duct exists?
From a cost transformation perspective the cabs look at real oddity in two of the Colcheser Parks I have seen. Running fibres to the final DPs would have been cheaper but I guess more threatening to existing revenue.
Posted by rweston over 2 years ago
Posted by rweston over 2 years ago
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Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@gerarda the USC figure has been included. The 0.1% to 2.6% may seem small, but for those affected its important and 1% of well over half a million premises is a decent sized number.
Posted by fastman over 2 years ago
VFL i have no view but lest assume its a low THP and expensive business park and the LA determines a speed -- you then have to build against the required spec - also the more you prioritise at low amount THP the less THP you deploy as you might hve been able to deploy 5 - 6 cabs for the price of doing 1
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I would forget the USC just have a % on the USO (5 meg) thus pushing the speed up the Banding. This will be picked up at a later date.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
What did Horace say, Winnie?
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