Essex was never going to be at the front of the pack for superfast broadband roll-out, particularly when the project started with the lowly ambition of 87% with access to a fibre based broadband solution, well below the targets announced in 2012 of 90% with access to superfast broadband. The Essex BDUK project is half way through its roll-out with the new Culture Minister John Whittingdale MP taking to twitter to express delight.
"Delighted to be with Superfast Essex to congratulate them on enabling 32,500 more premises across the county to access Superfast broadband."John Whittingdale MP - twitter
There is no denying that the project has not delivered, our checks on the coverage show that yes they are around half way through the project, and with the next 32,500 representing around another five percentage points the project should hit its original contract goal of 87% with access to a fibre based connection, but that will be just 82% to 83% with access to superfast broadband.
So yes congratulations may be due, but a lot more work to do otherwise parts of the Essex economy are going to suffer in the competition with the other parts of the UK where superfast broadband is more widely available. Hopefully as the new Culture Minister gets to grips with the roll-out and what the figures actually mean on the ground, e.g. Essex may be at 77.7% superfast availability but his own constituency of Maldon is in the bottom 10% of UK constituencies for superfast broadband coverage with just 52.8% coverage at superfast speeds.