Essex: £24.6million roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband across county
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A £24.6million deal has been signed which will see high-speed fibre optic broadband delivered to thousands of Essex homes and businesses.
Essex County Council and BT have announced the deal which, when combined with plans by the private sector, should result in around 87% of premises across the county being able to access high internet speeds by the end of summer 2016.
The project also aims to deliver 2Mbps for all premises and builds on BT’s commercial plans which have already made fibre optic broadband available to more than 500,000 Essex properties.
Kevin Bentley, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic growth and infrastructure, said: “Now that this contract has been signed we can begin working with BT to build a full picture of the broadband requirements in Essex.
“These upgrades will make a real difference to Essex residents and in particular, businesses that have difficulty trading and communicating online because of slow speeds.
“We want to grow our economy and create an environment for businesses to thrive and grow and better broadband is one of the ways we can help.” According to Ofcom, the average downstream speed in Essex is 11.5Mbps while 12.5% of properties received less than 2Mbps.
Despite Essex’s proximity to London, agriculture, marine and woodland industries predominate in 72% of the county.
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BT is contributing £11.7m towards the cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas, while Essex County Council is contributing £6.46m, with £6.46m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK funds.
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “This announcement is excellent news for Essex and the next stage of an exciting journey for the county.
“In today’s digital world, a fast and reliable broadband service is vital if the economy is to thrive, helping to attract new inward investment to Essex and helping local businesses expand.
“This in turn will help to stimulate jobs and growth throughout the county.”
Engineers for BT Openreach will now begin surveying locations around the county and analysing the best way to roll-out the network and identify which areas will be upgraded for fibre broadband,
The first premises currently expected to be upgraded should be online by June next year.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This project will see thousands of homes and businesses across Essex gain access to superfast broadband speeds and will be instrumental in driving growth, boosting the local economy, and achieving the Government’s objective of reaching 95% of UK premises by 2017.”