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Rural broadband provider sees staggering growth as demand for hyperfast soars

PUBLISHED: 11:45 13 November 2019

County Broadband is rolling out next-generation full fibre broadband to rural communities across East Anglia following a multi-million-pound private investment  Picture: WARREN PAGE/COUNTY BROADBAND

County Broadband is rolling out next-generation full fibre broadband to rural communities across East Anglia following a multi-million-pound private investment Picture: WARREN PAGE/COUNTY BROADBAND

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A company taking hyperfast broadband to rural areas is set to ramp up its workforce by 500% by the end of this year in response to growing demand.

Lewis Simington, human resources manager at County Broadband  Picture: ANNABELLE GARDINER/COUNTY BROADBANDLewis Simington, human resources manager at County Broadband Picture: ANNABELLE GARDINER/COUNTY BROADBAND

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County Broadband, which is based at Colchester, started the year with 16 staff and now employs 60 people. Bosses are confident that the business will be 79-strong by the end of 2019 as it pursues ambitious plans to become a major play in the UK's growing technology sector.

The rural broadband provider - which aims to connect around 40k premises by the end of 2020 - is creating new roles in technology, finance and community engagement as part of its business expansion plans. It follows a £46m private investment boost from Aviva Investors in 2018 to support its rollout of hyperfast full fibre broadband to rural areas in East Anglia.

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Dozens of villages have already given the go-ahead to have new future-ready Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) networks installed, giving households in the region speeds of 1,000 megabits per second - 20 times faster than the UK average.

Human resources manager Lewis Simington said the firm advertised for 25 jobs in October, with young apprentices and engineering technicians among the recruits.

"It's fantastic to be part of a rapidly-expanding team and compared to even six months ago, we're unrecognisable," he said.

"It's reassuring and a huge boost to the local economy to be part of firm on an exciting growth journey, delivering an important new service to local communities. We have just launched a seven-year business plan and 2020 will be the year when we really start coming into our own.

"I think the ambition is to become a major player, both in the region and in the national technology sector - flying the flag for Essex and the East of England. We are realistic about where we are now but we do have big plans for the future."

Local talent was key, said Mr Simington. "This is essential when you're looking to move into areas such as Norfolk and Cambridgeshire as you need people who appreciate what we're trying to do within local communities and have that connection with them."

David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: "Having access to an efficient and fast broadband network is an absolute essential for success today and we congratulate County Broadband for the work they are doing to ensure that businesses across the East of England, and especially in Essex, will be able get just that."


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