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Gigaclear to bring gigabit broadband to 4,500 Essex properties

Fibre broadband supplier Gigaclear wins a contract to deploy a network in Epping Forest as part of Superfast Essex’s Rural Challenge Project

Ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband supplier Gigaclear is to rollout a gigabit network across parts of Epping Forest in Essex at a cost of £7.5m, after signing a contract with Superfast Essex, Essex Council’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

Superfast Essex aims to reach 65,000 properties at a cost of £24.6m during the first phase of the scheme. To date it has passed 35,000 with a year left to run.

Phase 2a, the contract for which has also been awarded to BT, will add 51,000 properties at a cost of £18.9m and will begin in 2016.

Phase 2b, the contract won by Gigaclear, is a pilot programme aimed at filling gaps that BT cannot or will not reach.

State aid

It is the first BDUK contract to be awarded by Superfast Essex to an alternative operator other than BT – although Gigaclear has accepted state aid before. In Essex it will invest £2 for every £1 of government money, contributing a total of £5.5m.

The firm has also recently scooped a similar contract as part of Hereford and Gloucestershire’s Fastershire BDUK project to bring ultrafast broadband to almost 6,500 homes and business in the Cotswolds, for which it will contribute a £7m investment.

Gigaclear’s sales and marketing director Joe Frost previously said he expected to see the altnet, which bases its business model on never going head-to-head with BT, begin to win a lot more second stage BDUK contracts.

“A lot of councils are now on board with this and realise there is not enough money in BDUK to address the problem, so are in-filling with people like us or wireless or satellite systems,” he told Computer Weekly in an interview in 2014.

Fibre-to-the-Home by Christmas

Gigaclear said it expects to start digging in October and aims to have its first customers in some of the hardest to reach communities in Epping Forest live before Christmas.

It plans to install an open, fibre communications infrastructure in parallel to the existing copper network in Epping Forest, providing reliable, symmetric broadband capable of speeds of up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps).

Councillor Alan Lion, portfolio holder responsible for technology at Epping Forest District Council, said: “Faster broadband speeds means our residents and businesses based in rural areas of the district will benefit from much better connectivity than currently available and will provide a much more reliable internet service.”

Matthew Hare, Chief Executive of Gigaclear, said: “Fast and reliable broadband is so important today. It enables families to connect and businesses to compete. That’s why we are determined to help communities like those in Epping Forest District – who have not yet been reached by the Superfast Essex programme  – have the best possible connections.”

“We’re not simply bringing the broadband up to date. We’re going to give people living and working in this area the kind of speeds that others in major cities can only dream of,” he added.

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