The Superfast Essex programme has announced the level of investment for its phase 3 project and some £10m of public money is set to be allocated to four areas of Essex and in the case of Tendring District the aim being to reach 100% superfast coverage.
"Phase 3 will bring together savings from the existing Superfast Essex programme, contributions from Tendring District Council and Uttlesford District Council, and a new grant from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) – the team within Government overseeing the national superfast broadband rollout.
The tender for the new rollout was launched on Thursday 10 November and the requirement has been split into four separate zones, known as ‘Lots’.
Across the four Lots, an estimated 24,000 premises are eligible for inclusion in the Phase 3 rollout. The actual number of properties to be included will be determined during the procurement process. The lots are split as follows:
- Uttlesford District – 5,500 premises. One of the most rural districts in the county with significantly poor connectivity.
- Central North – 4,500 premises. This includes parts of Braintree, Colchester and Chelmsford districts.
- Tendring District – 5,500 premises. To help Tendring District reach 100% superfast broadband coverage.
- South East – 8,500 premises. This includes rural areas along the coastline of Maldon and Rochford districts and parts of Castle Point and Basildon districts.Extract from press release
The phase 1 project completed in June 2016, and thus our July figures should show what was achieved and that was superfast broadband coverage of 86% at 30 Mbps or faster. Since then the phase 2 roll-out which has seen coverage improve to 87.5% and with 26 months to the deadline the 95% target looks possible if the pace of roll-out is maintained.
Phase 3 with an intervention area of 24,000 is around 4% of premises in Essex, but that is the intervention area a lot will depend on how the procurement goes and it seems the council is keen to embrace not just fixed line fibre (VDSL/FTTP) and is highlighting that the lots are open to any technology capable of delivering 30 Mbps speeds.
There is sometimes an oddity with regards to how the 30 Mbps figure is used and while in the BT contracts the 24 and 30 Mbps definitions mean a minimum of that speed (yes some don't get that but they are not billed as superfast in the contract) we have seem some competitors pushing technology where the fastest package you can buy is up to 30 Mbps and pricing means the majority elect for slower than that. So as much as BT Group is referred to as snake oil sales people some of the alternatives engage in it just as much, sometimes more so. Essex is working with Gigaclear for some of the phase 2 work, and we are sure many are hoping that Gigaclear or other FTTP solutions will bid in these lots.