Superfast Essex hits take-up targets ahead of schedule
Essex County Council and its Superfast Essex contracts via the BDUK process are continuing to delivery with the first of the phase three VDSL2 cabinets going live in April (Canvey Island cabinet 38) and the project has hit an important milestone early.
The take-up levels in the project areas (mixture of Openreach and Gigaclear) is running at 52% currently according to the latest news and the original goal had been to reach that sort of take-up in July 2018. Looking at our data for the whole of Essex, the take-up of superfast services in urban Essex is running at 52.7% and 47.3% in the rural areas (the urban and rural split in Essex is 73% urban and 27% of premises in rural areas).
The charts above show the top and bottom quartile speeds from our speed test analysis along with the median speeds for cabinets that were part of the phase 1 contract (364 BDUK cabinets delivered May 2014 to November 2016) and the phase 2 contract (240 SEP - Superfast Extension Programme cabinets March 2016 and still going).
The charts show the median for the download and upload in the earliest project phase clearly increasing, but for the phase 2 (VDSL2 areas only) the median figures are yet to show a major jump, once more people realise that better services than ADSL/ADSL2+ are available the median should jump and the fact the top quartile figures have improved show that things are happening. The biggest difference is really the time, the first cabinets from phase 1 have been live for four years now, but the first phase 2 cabinet is only just over two years old.
The result of all the roll-out means that Essex is currently sat at 92.5% superfast coverage (over 24 Mbps) and has a full fibre footprint of 1.45% (0.47% via Openreach), but the picture as with most counties is different once you divide into the urban and areas.
- Urban Essex (73% of premises) 97.8% superfast with 0.88% full fibre coverage
- Rural Essex (27% of premises) 78.4% superfast with 2.90% full fibre coverage
The good news is that Essex is continuing the roll-outs and apparently phase 4a contracts are due to be signed in the next month with deployment in the Basildon, Braintree and Epping Forest council areas and a further set of contracts will be announced in due course as phase 4b. Grants to the value of £18 million have been applied for which if these are obtained will take funding for phase 4 to around £29 million.
It is too early to use our figures to accurately work out what £29 million is worth per premise as the existing phases underway are set to continue to 2020 so we should expect the superfast coverage to keep increasing for some time to come. Importantly to make it easier for the public to know what technology to expect Essex will be adding a bit more information about the areas being built with FTTP to its site in the near future.