The first stage of digging has begun to bring ultrafast broadband to homes and businesses in the east of Epping Forest District, as part of the £7.5 million Superfast Essex Rural Challenge Project. Ultrafast broadband provider Gigaclear is installing its pure fibre cable network directly to more than 4,500 homes and businesses, providing internet speeds up to 1,000 times faster than currently available in the area.
Members of the Superfast Essex team including Essex County Councillor Penny Channer, Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Waste and Recycling, and Epping Forest District Council representatives, including Councillor Alan Lion, Portfolio Holder responsible for Technology and Support Services, joined Gigaclear to mark the occasion as diggers began to create a track for the fibre network in Ashlyns Lane, Moreton.
Homes and businesses in 18 parishes will have access to Gigaclear’s ultrafast service as a result of the Rural Challenge Project. Parts of Abbess Beauchamp and Berners Roding, Bobbingworth, Fyfield, High Ongar, Moreton, Ongar, Stanford Rivers, and Willingale are expected to be included in the first phase of work taking place between now and May 2016, however the timescales for each area remain subject to change.
The Superfast Essex Rural Challenge Project contract was awarded to Gigaclear in June 2015. The pilot project was designed to test an alternative way of bringing faster connectivity to rural areas which were until now not included within the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout. The main BDUK project in Essex, which is being implemented by BT, is on track to provide 116,000 premises with access to superfast speeds of 24Mbps and above by 2019, using Fibre-to-the-Cabinet technology.
Gigaclear will invest £5.5million in the Rural Challenge Project, which equates to more than £2 for every £1 of state aid. It will be combined with £2million public funding from Essex County Council, BDUK and Epping Forest District Council.
Cllr Channer, who is also the Chairman of the Superfast Essex Steering Board, said: “It is great to see the plans for our rural pilot project starting to come to life. This will make a tremendous difference to residents and businesses in this area. Well done to the team for their continuing hard work to keep everything on track. I look forward to seeing the results.”
Matthew Hare, Chief Executive at Gigaclear, said: “By installing a new Fibre-to-the-Premises network we are giving residents and businesses in the Epping Forest District internet speeds that will transform their online experience, meaning working from home, running a business, studying, being entertained and play will now be possible for all. Living in a rural area doesn’t mean you have to tolerate bad broadband, and we’re here working with the Superfast Essex team and Epping Forest District Council to futureproof communications within the Epping Forest District.”
“Gigaclear’s pure fibre service will deliver internet speeds of up to 1000Mbps, 40 times faster than the UK average, for everyone connected.”
Cllr Alan Lion said: “Today is a milestone for the area. Installing this ultrafast technology from Gigaclear will make a momentous change to the work and home lives of residents when the network goes live. We’re excited for the possibilities this creates and looking forward to seeing these rural communities thrive as a result.”
Local events are being held by Gigaclear and Superfast Essex as part of the rollout to provide further information to those who will have access to the service. Residents and businesses will have the opportunity to ask questions about the project and have their broadband questions answered.