While non-metropolitan areas of the UK clamour for fast broadband connections, or even broadband worthy of its name, the Braintree district of Essex now claims to have access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the world.
More than 500 homes and businesses in the communities of Great Saling and Panfield are the first in the Braintree district to benefit from the arrival of ultra-fast rural broadband – which can deliver speeds of up to 900Mbps – from network operator Gigaclear’s full-fibre roll-out under Essex County Council’s Superfast Essex broadband programme.
A total of 514 homes and 43 businesses in the Great Saling and Panfield communities now have access to the Gigaclear network. Half of the addresses in both locations were upgraded through the council’s programme and the other half as a result of direct investment by Gigaclear.
The issue of ultra-fast broadband roll-out was a key element in this week’s Queen’s Speech which saw the UK government set out its plans to achieve prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge of delivering full-fibre [broadband] to every home in the UK by 2025.
However, the details of the speech revealed that the government’s ambition was to roll out gigabit-capable broadband across the UK to achieve nationwide coverage “as soon as possible” rather than by any fixed date, as previously stated.
The work in Great Saling and Panfield is part of the Superfast Essex Phase 3 roll-out, which is set to reach more than 3,700 homes and businesses across 19 communities in central north Essex, including parts of Braintree district and the borough of Colchester, by December 2021.
The £6m contract is funded by combined investment from Gigaclear, Essex County Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Before the new network arrived, internet speeds available in Braintree were, in some instances, as low at 2Mbps.
Essex county councillor Lesley Wagland, deputy cabinet member for infrastructure and chair of the Superfast Essex steering board, said: “This is excellent news for these two communities in Braintree 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 will make a tremendous difference.”
Tony Smith, regional general manager for the East of England at Gigaclear, added: “Poor broadband speeds are not something that households and businesses should have to deal with any more, no matter how rural they are. The new network is bringing life-changing broadband speeds to Braintree.”