County Broadband finish new full-fibre network in Essex

Construction of a new full-fibre broadband network has finished and gone live in rural north Essex during lockdown. The network will provide access to some of the UK’s fastest speeds to thousands of residents and businesses following years of poor digital connectivity, according to County Broadband.

In a major boost to community spirit and the local economy, Eight Ash Green, Aldham and Dale Close in Stanway near Colchester are now connected to the gigabit-capable network and have leapt overnight into the UK’s top 10% for digital connectivity.

Speeds up to 1,000 Mbps are available – 18 times faster than the UK average and 10 times faster than copper-based superfast broadband that dates back to the Victorian period.

The villages gave the go-ahead to the rollout plans backed by millions of pounds of private funding last year. The government views broadband as an essential utility and vital to the post COVID-19 economic recovery, and approved the continuation of the new network’s construction during the COVID-19 crisis, giving keywork status to the company’s telecoms engineers.

It meant County Broadband was able to complete construction of its new full-fibre network during the ongoing lockdown, with its workforce following public health guidelines in place.

Stanway councillor Lesley Scott-Boutell said: “I’m delighted that County Broadband addressed residents’ concerns about the outdated broadband in Dale Close and now have got Hyperfast broadband, especially in these unprecedented times when families have been in lockdown. This has been a lifeline for them.”

Residents can now work reliably from home without the slowdowns many other households face as people spend more time online during the lockdown, whilst being able to download their favourite HD films in minutes and enjoy uninterrupted streaming and gaming services across multiple devices.

Businesses can take advantage of video conferencing and cloud-sharing services which have become vital in the new working world and will help turbocharge growth and productivity in the post-coronavirus and post-Brexit economy.

The government has pledged that the entire UK should have access to gigabit capable speeds by 2025 to catch up with the rest of the world. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “infrastructure revolution” involves relying on local providers such as County Broadband to accelerate the rollouts.

Lloyd Felton (pictured), chief executive of County Broadband, said: “We’re very excited to welcome Eight Ash Green, Aldham and Dale Close to our growing Hyperfast network and we hope residents and businesses reap the benefits of lightning-fast connectivity as we rely on the internet more than ever.

“The current lockdown has shone a spotlight on our outdated digital infrastructure. Our aim is to make rural Essex and the wider region digital flagbearers by meeting today’s demands of fast, uninterrupted connections whilst at the same time ensuring all rural and hard-to-reach premises are future-ready to cope with ever increasing data requirements.”

Hyperfast full-fibre broadband is delivered through fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks where fibre optic cables are connected directly into properties. In contrast, existing superfast fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure relies on homes still being connected via copper cable connections from green cabinets. FTTC speeds halve every 600 metres and can be unreliable during peak times.

County Broadband’s networks are funded by a £46million private investment from Aviva Investors. The provider is also currently rolling out its service in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire and aims to cover 20,000 premises in the East of England by the end of 2020.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine