More than 500 homes and businesses in Great Saling and Panfield are the first in Braintree District to benefit from the arrival of ultrafast rural broadband network operator Gigaclear’s full fibre rollout under Essex County Council’s Superfast Essex broadband programme.

Half of the addresses in both communities were upgraded as a result of the Superfast Essex programme, and the other half as a result of direct investment by Gigaclear.

In total, 514 homes and 43 businesses in Great Saling and Panfield now have access to the Gigaclear network, which can deliver speeds of up to 900Mbps.

The new network means it will take less than one minute to download a two-and-a-half hour-long HD film - faster than microwaving the popcorn. Music can be downloaded at a rate of 23 songs every 1.6 seconds, while uploading 200 photos will take less than 9 seconds.

This is a stark improvement to internet speeds available in Braintree prior to Gigaclear’s arrival, which in some instances were as low at 2Mbps.

The work in Great Saling and Panfield is part of the Superfast Essex Phase 3 rollout which is set to reach more than 3,700 homes and businesses across 19 communities in the Central North of Essex, including parts of Braintree District and the Borough of Colchester, by December 2021. The £6 million contract is funded by combined investment from Gigaclear, Essex County Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).   

Tony Smith, Regional General Manager for the East of England at Gigaclear, said: “We are delighted to have arrived in Braintree with our full fibre technology. Poor broadband speeds are not something that households and businesses should have to deal with anymore, no matter how rural they are. The Gigaclear network is bringing life-changing broadband speeds to Braintree in partnership with Superfast Essex and we can’t wait to roll it out in more regions in the coming months.”  

Essex County Councillor Lesley Wagland, Deputy Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Superfast Essex Steering Board Chairman, said: “This is excellent news for these two communities in Braintree District and a great milestone for Gigaclear and the Superfast Essex programme to have achieved. We want to help as many rural residents and businesses as possible to have better access to online services and opportunities and the ultrafast speeds available from Gigaclear will make a tremendous difference. We look forward to even more of the Gigaclear network going live.”

The network build in Braintree District has required extensive civil engineering work by Gigaclear. To connect Panfield, a trench more than 11.5km in length was dug, allowing Gigaclear to install its fibre network cables, build the new infrastructure and connect rural villages in the area. In Great Saling, more than 30km of digging took place, which is equivalent to three-and-a-half Mount Everest’s.  

Residents can check the Superfast Essex interactive map online to see if ultrafast broadband is available or planned at their address via www.superfastessex.org/maps. Those interested in getting connected to the network can contact one of the internet service providers available on the Gigaclear network via www.gigaclear.com/our-partners.

Those interested in finding out more about Gigaclear’s ongoing network build in Great Saling and Panfield can attend one of two upcoming community events. The Great Saling event will take place on 22nd October, from 7pm until 9pm, at The Salings Millennium Hall. The Panfield event will be held on 24th October, from 7pm to 9pm, at Panfield Village Hall.

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