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%|
|Castle Point District||96.6%||93%||41.4%||0%||2.1%||3.3%|
|Epping Forest District||85%||81.4%||64.8%||0%||1.5%||8.8%|
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.