Construction to bring full fibre broadband to rural Essex has started after 30 villages gave the go-ahead this summer, specialist internet service provider County Broadband has announced.
Residents and business owners in rural communities in the Colchester, Chelmsford and Braintree areas gave the green light to have new hyperfast gigabit-capable networks built – which will put them in the top 8% of the UK for digital connectivity.
Eight Ash Green and Dale Close, both near Colchester, are the first villages where construction work has started. Other villages set to benefit from the rollout over the coming weeks include Aldham, Wakes Colne, Chappel, Fordham and Mount Bures.
Community leaders gathered to celebrate the launch. Lesley Scott-Boutell, councillor for Dale Close in Stanway, said: “People increasingly rely on ever faster broadband but unfortunately some areas are often left behind when it comes to their digital connectivity.
“This new full fibre network will provide a real boost to residents and businesses and will play an important role in the long-term prosperity of these local communities.”
County Broadband’s new network, which can provide hyperfast speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, is backed by a £46 million pound investment to upgrade rural villages and future-proof their broadband by offering speeds 20 times faster than the national average.
Stanway resident Laraine Green added: “I am very pleased our community has joined together to secure this new service and it’s amazing to think that our village will have some of the fastest broadband in the country. We’ve all struggled with slow internet speeds for too long, making watching online TV programmes, films and using other online services a real struggle, particularly for families who all want to get online at the same time. We can’t wait to start using the new service.”
The news follows the government’s pledge for the entire UK to have access to future-ready full fibre by 2033 to catch up with the rest of the world.
Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said: “We are very excited to welcome these villages to be at the leading edge of bringing full fibre broadband into their homes and help to make rural Essex a flagbearer for world-class connectivity.
“Building next-generation full fibre broadband is vital for rural residents, businesses and economies to thrive in our digitally connected world. By joining our network, we believe residents and businesses have made a wise investment in their long-term prosperity by getting future ready.”
Full fibre broadband provides speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) through fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks in which fibre optic cables are connected directly into properties. This means users can download HD films in seconds, take full advantage of online streaming services such as on-demand TV, and allow the whole family, or all employees in a business, to enjoy fast, uninterrupted internet access.
In contrast, superfast broadband relies on fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure which, even though is promoted as fibre, uses copper elements to deliver the internet from green roadside cabinets to properties. Speeds halve approximately every 600 metres and connections can be unreliable in peak times.
The new networks in the 30 villages in Essex are set to be fully operational by early next year. More villages are also expected to be announced to be built by Christmas with 140 in total being targeted across Essex and Norfolk. The roll-out is funded by a private investment from Aviva Investors and is not dependent upon public money.
County Broadband, which also provides a wireless internet service, was established in Aldham, Essex, in 2003, and currently has over 3,000 customers across East Anglia.