£24m for 24,000 more superfast premises in Essex
Essex is just below the original 90% superfast target at 89.7% but its original phase 1 project originally had an 85% goal, so its should be no shocker that only as part of the SEP (superfast extension projects) is the 90% approaching.
Three new contracts and changes to an existing one are set to bring superfast broadband to another 24,000 premises across the county in a deal worth £24m. The contracts involve Gigaclear who install ultrafast full fibre and who is already operating in parts of Essex and BT who we believe will deploy a mixture of technologies (VDSL2/FTTP).
- Gigaclear to pass 3,800 premises in Braintree and Colchester Districts
- BT to pass 6,800 premises in five districts including Maldon and Colchester
- Gainshare funding to pass another 8,900 premises in four districts including parts of Colchester and Chelmsford.
The funding is described as coming from savings in phase 1 i.e. the original goals were reached without spending all the money so BT did not ride off into the sunset with all the money as some believed they would do. The gainshare dividend is also contributing via the higher than expected take-up levels. The exact amounts are not given but 'significant' investment is coming from BT and Gigaclear.
The East Anglian Daily Times details that the Superfast Essex project has 'connected 85,000 homes and businesses' and doing our usual fact check we arrive at a figure of 86,630 premises so this seems a sensible claim. There is one caveat and that is the use of the word connected since premises are not actually connected to the VDSL2/FTTP networks until someone actually orders, a less ambiguous phrase might be 'passed by' or 'available to' and we are mentioning this because of some concerns raised as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset project where Airband was described as having 'connected 3,855 premises' across Exmoor and Dartmoor and this saw people contacting us with grave doubts that so many had ordered the service, and on viewing the video from that council meeting it is clear they are using the word connected in the same way as the Superfast Essex project.
Why is the word connected important and potentially misleading? Put simply it may to the public be conveying the idea that the roll-outs connect to your home and thus they don't have to do anything to get the upgrade, when in reality the service passes the property and the decision to upgrade is down to the resident.
24,000 premises equates to around 4% of Essex premises, and with the eventual target of 144,000 premises passed by the project by December 2019 this suggests a superfast coverage level close to or above 99%. Predicting future percentages on contracts in place is difficult as developers might add 10,000 homes to the premise count in the next couple of years, but with the changes in how new build is new handled hopefully most of these will be full fibre (FTTP).