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Progress report for Superfast Essex project
Friday 20 November 2015 11:07:48 by Andrew Ferguson

The Superfast Essex project is now within 12,000 premises of its original 87% fibre based broadband target with some 52,500 premises helped by the project to get superfast broadband. Our analysis of the premises passed indicates that with 85.8% fibre based coverage they may overshoot the original target - once you add speed qualifiers to the coverage the figure drops to 82.1% with access to broadband at 24 Mbps and faster.

The real news for those not able to get a 2 Mbps connection though is that the news letter confirms that the alternative technology will be satellite based, and this is even though parts of Essex have access to fixed wireless (though hopefully in those areas people will already be using the services to get above the minimum), the latest newsletter from the project describes satellite as an interim solution and that the cost will be subsidised by the project (detail later in the year) likely pricing can be garnered from pricing for the Suffolk and West Yorkshire areas, which at £37.90 per month for a 25GB usage allowance is hardly cheap and above the £25 BDUK affordability target, there is a £22.90 10GB allowance, but that is well below the average monthly usage on fixed line broadband, and then there is the installation and set-up at £124.75 to consider (apparently reduced from £499). We believe the £499 install cost would only ever apply if you had wanted to buy the satellite hardware outright, the majority pay a small rental fee instead e.g. Tooway Direct, £29.99/m for 10GB plus £6.99/m kit rental.

thinkbroadband calculation of current fibre, superfast and new USO broadband coverage in Essex and its component district councils - 18th November 2015
Area % fibre based % superfast
>24 Mbps
% superfast
(>30 Mbps)
(change since 4th August 2015)
% cable % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 10 Mbps USO
Essex County (combined) 85.8% 82.1% (+2.8) 81.3% 34.5% 0.7% 6.7%
Basildon 97.3% 94.9% (+1.9) 94% 59.9% 0.7% 2.8%
Braintree 71% 61.6% (+3.4) 60.4% 0% 1.9% 16.3%
Brentwood 88.8% 86.1% (+1.5) 85.7% 0.1% 0.8% 5.7%
Castle Point 97.9% 96.4% (+2) 95.1% 41.4% 0.4% 0.7%
Chelmsford 90.1% 86.4% (+1.8) 85.8% 46.5% 0.9% 6%
Colchester 85.6% 82.4% (+1.1) 81.7% 55.7% 0.1% 9.2%
Epping Forest 87.1% 83.5% (+0.9) 82.9% 65.2% 1.7% 8.7%
Harlow 98.5% 98% (+0.8) 98% 89.6% 0.2% 1%
Maldon 67.4% 61.5% (+15.9) 60% 0% 1.7% 16.5%
Rochford 92.2% 88.5% (+1) 87.7% 0% 0.4% 3.7%
Southend-on-Sea 97.1% 96.7% (=) 96.4% 59.7% 0.1% 0.3%
Tendring 83.8% 80.5% (+3.1) 79.7% 0% 1% 7.4%
Thurrock 95% 92.1% (=) 91.6% 70.5% 0.2% 3%
Uttlesford 58.4% 54.7% (+6.6) 53% 19.5% 1.4% 25.5%

Correction: We have not used the district council coverage tracker for sometime, and a bug was present that meant we did not always match households correctly to a district council. This only affected district councils and not the large authorities or constituencies that we usually feature in coverage summaries.

The two big movers are Maldon and Uttlesford with the latter district council area in desperate need for a lot more coverage since 1 in 4 are still under 10 Mbps.

The parts of Epping Forest due to get Gigaclear between now and October 2016 are mapped out on the Gigaclear website and while Epping Forest area has exceptional coverage already we are sure that those in the 1.9% under 2 Mbps will be clamouring for Gigaclear to arrive if they are in one of the lucky areas to be covered.


Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
As far as I can see neither the Suffolk nor the West Yorkshire sites mention satellite but the Hampshire one appears to indicate a £350 subsidy towards both installation and monthly sub.

Although not clear there was a rather disturbing implication that if Ofcom's over optimistic coverage checker said you could get 4G you would not be eligible for the subsidy
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
West Yorkshire
Posted by SLAMDUNC about 1 year ago
Uttlesford is forecast to reach just 63% superfast coverage in Phase1, so that desperate need is not going to be fulfilled for at least another 18 months.
This shows the problem with being a rural district in an urban county.
Posted by JNeuhoff about 1 year ago
Essex is really doing poorly here, with just 81.3% superfast coverage. Its BDUK programme has heavily promoted the wrong technology (VDSL, instead of fibre, as wrongly claimed on their website!). Things are now getting worse for the many rural areas.
Posted by JNeuhoff about 1 year ago
According the latest Superfast Essex newsletter:

According to their recent newsletter:

"Satellite has been identified as the alternative non-fibre solution which will be made available to homes and businesses not included in our fibre rollout and currently receiving speeds of less than 2Mbps.

The alternative technology was chosen by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and will be used nationally across all regional broadband programmes."

They just never get it right. What a farce!
Posted by SLAMDUNC about 1 year ago
Satellite's a very cheap way of satisfying the requirement for the programme though - because very few people will order it!
Especially with the restrictions imposed such as not available if fibre update planned within a year etc.
Posted by jumpmum about 1 year ago
Andrew. There appears to be something wrong with the Epping Forest Figures, typo somewhere.

If 95.3 can get more than 24Mb how come 9.9% are under the 10Mb USO?

I would have expected this to be less than 4.7%
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
@jumpmum Andrew quotes 1.9% in the text
Posted by godsell4 about 1 year ago
@JNeuhoff I guess you got the newsletter directly. Is there a link to where I can download it from? I checked the superfastessex site and could not spot it there.

The statement that satellite is the way forward for those missed in Phase1 and Phase2 is very worrying.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
Salut the 259 cabinets installed so far! The geographies are likely to mean £20k cabs. Clawback on take up £2m and BT Capex of £4.8m should mean a cheap Phase 1 for Essex!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Have not used district council level data for a while - there looks to be a bug and will update shortly.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Okay bug fixed - will update and add a correction note to article.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Fixed figures are now in the article, will go back and correct the August article and re-introduce the change figures after that is done, and spend the evening looking back for any district council figures.

Only affected district councils, not County, Metro, Borough, Unitary or Constituencies.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
biggest problem is the amount of busiess park and low tHP high cost cabs they did in phase which serviced very small cabs -- and will have affected overall county coverage
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Essex might not have progressed very far with superfast speeds, but there's a surprisingly low percentage that are sub-2Mbps.

Suffolk has about the same SF coverage, but has double the percentage of sub-2Mbps, at 1.7%

North Yorkshire also has about the same SF coverage, but has double the sub-2Mbps again, at 3.6%
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Wombat.
Could it be that these Sub 2 megs readings on Thinkbroadband maps be due to line faults and internal situations plus change over to differant ISP,s, there are also many that are located close to the exchange and cabs. I feel that the 10% Basic broadband result is the most inportant reading to observe.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
I guess that the reason that there are less sub 2Mbps lines in Essex is simply because there are less long lines in Essex because Essex is less rural than Suffolk.
It is also probably an indication that the first phase of BDUK in Essex was rather less ambitious than it could have been.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Chi.
There are results in your village that are showing under 2meg when they are very close to the FTTC this situation could be that they are still on long lines ADSL as your old exchange was recovered date ?. I feel this situation is showing in other locations so I only look at the new 10 meg (Basic Broadband) I think your line is in this window on your preferred ISP.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@blackmamba And this is why we do not use the speed test results when creating the columns displayed in the table that this article contains.

And remember FTTC is not an automatic upgrade, so the ADSL speed tests do not suddenly vanish from the maps.

All stuff we have explained before and will have to again I guess.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
I get very annoyed when I look at the speed test results and see so many slow ADSL results in localities that could get 20Mbps or more on FTTC [more than 50% of the total number in our Village]. I have told so many people that they can get better speeds but they are simply not interested and just carry on moaning about their poor service.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I take @Andrew and TBB at face value here - that their speed test results on the maps play no part in calculating coverage. I agree with that stance entirely.

So much so that, while I pay attention to the TBB coverage data (the labs' local stuff), I never bother looking at the speed-test map. Never.

The maps just aren't part of this discussion.

Can I emphasise that any better?
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Exactly my thoughts. If Essex isn't really that rural after all, then it ought to have considerably better ambitions.

Perhaps it is staffed by councillors who follow the Worcestershire guy's stance - too many badgers and rabbits.

I was staggered to see that Essex has over 800,000 premises. That's a lot more than your average LA.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
biggest problem is the amount of business park and low tHP and very high cost cabs they did as a priority in phase 1 of their project which served very small cabs -- and will have affected overall county coverage -- these sort of cabs not done by normally any bduk project
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi WWWombat and others.
As you have never looked in the last (6 months) at Thinkbroadband map,s results which have changed (upgraded) and are know are hitting the black spots (0-10) thus showing where Openreach may be investing. Chi has watched and has taken action in trying to get other option in his area on long lines (1500) plus advising his customers and getting their views.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
The figures above for Essex give a very accurate overall impression of the current situation in Essex.
Speed test results will never never give a true impression of the current situation in a locality.
The three main reasons for this are -
1. Many people have not upgraded to FTTC
2. Most people only do a speed test when they have a problem.
3. Internal line problems and WiFi may mess up the result.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@fastman Oxera unredacted reported Essex well below the average cost. Is there an unusual number stuck in Business Parks where duct was available to do FTTP?
Posted by rscott about 1 year ago
They've also done easy pickings like the Ardleigh exchange in Phase 1 - stuck a fibre cabinet outside the exchange so all those in the village can now go from at least 16MBit/s ADSL2+ to FTTC. However they've missed out quite a few of the more challenging cabinets so far.

Their interactive map is months behind too - looks like they've forgotten how to update it.

Posted by SLAMDUNC about 1 year ago
Next updates to the Essex map appear to be scheduled for the end of the year, which is pretty poor.
@WWWombat I think you're right about the ambition of Phase1: Phase2 is doing 80% of the premises count of Phase1 for less money and in much harder-to-reach locations.
That leads me to wonder just how much Phase1 money was allocated to getting everyone up to 2Mbps, and how much is now going down the satellite drain.
Posted by rscott about 1 year ago
Next update to the map was due in October, but never happened for unknown technical reasons.

They've not spent any money whatsoever on getting anyone up to 2Mbps - they're leaving that until the end of the project to see what technologies are available then. At least, that's what we were told back in March by the BT project manager.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
VFM FTTP and FTTC in business parks in phase 1 will have impacted coverage and will have been expensive in terms or price per premises
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
one of their priorities was business and therefore it stands to reason that most BDUK have done Business in later phase or not at all and have better coverage that one doing FTTP and business parks as a prioriry
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
the aberage cost per prem on a business park could be around £350 - 400+er prem based on a average cab cost with around 50 - 60 premises where as residential premises might have been 50% of that
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Fastman - ok that's £20-£25k, but why bother if the duct is there to do FTTP.
Openreach planning would not I think contemplate such idiocy, but I see BT Group advise it.
And that £125ish average aligns with my view with BT paying the first £65.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
VFM if you were really interested suggest you FOI to see what said county spend on business parks at the expense of rural premises - FTTP is typically 4x5 times of FTTC whether you habve duct of not --
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
when you proritise business park over rural premises as priority you get what you ask for

I understank there are some cabs that have a around 2/3% take up s they here slap bank next to Ethernet nodes
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
Fastman Thanks. Your 4x can be reduced with a connection charge.
So the mis-old private circuit gets replaced anyway, so why not with FTTP so you can optimise a long term cost position. This will be driving you guys wild anyway as you have to work against your better judgement in many cases.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
the leased lines not replaced ass these were not smes but mulitinationsl so FTTC provided not able to rely on a contented broadband service - the fact is that funding business parks as a priority with bduk money has coverage impact - the FTTp went into enterprise zones where I think there is currently nothing !!!!
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
Fastman Tx.
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