PUBLISHED: 07:55 12 February 2018 | UPDATED: 07:55 12 February 2018
Essex County Council’s rollout of superfast broadband has reached 100,000 homes and businesses, but the service could be better in North West Essex according to Kemi Badenoch, MP for Saffron Walden.
The Superfast Essex programme is the fibre infrastructure rollout being co-ordinated by the county council in partnership with network operators Openreach and Gigaclear.
100,000 more Essex homes and businesses can now access superfast speeds of 30Mbps and above. The programme is ongoing with work planned to reach more than 144,000 homes and businesses by early 2020.
Further work, seeking to address the remaining gaps in coverage by the end of 2021, is currently being commissioned. But Ms Badenoch said: “I’m pleased to see such positive figures for broadband coverage across the UK, but we can do better in north west Essex. “Local economies like ours rely on a level playing field in digital infrastructure.
I have continually questioned the secretary of state on what provisions he is making for those who will not receive the same service as others in the Superfast Essex scheme, and I will continue to push hard at both a local and national level for us not to be forgotten.” The news comes as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announces the nationwide superfast broadband rollout, led by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), successfully achieved its target of providing at least 95 per cent of the UK with access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017. Superfast Essex has helped contribute to this national target, and the Openreach rollout in the county continues to be three months ahead of schedule.
In total more than 385km of fibre cabling has been installed under the subsidised deployment programme across the county.
Essex county councillor Kevin Bentley, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic growth, skills, infrastructure and the digital economy, said: “Superfast Essex has made tremendous progress in helping our county become better connected and reaching 100,000 homes and businesses is a phenomenal milestone.
“We are not complacent and know there is still more to do but this is a fantastic achievement and one we should be proud of.”
ELIZABETHTOWN | The state has a year until their self-imposed deadline to provide universal broadband access for all New Yorkers. Fifty-one weeks, actually. But who’s counting?
Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) thinks the state will fall short of that goal. “I don’t expect this third round will get us to 100 percent,” Stec told Essex County lawmakers on Jan.
2. “There will still be a difference of where we’re projected to land at end of Phase 3 and that 95 percent. “I suspect we’re going to need to put more money into it to get where we want,” Stec said.
The New NY Broadband Program, introduced in 2015 with an announcement in Lake Placid, aims to provide three rounds of state grants totaling £500 million augmented with federal funds and private investment. Charter Communications has also committed to providing service as part of its merger with Time Warner. The reverse bidding process for the third and final round concluded in August, and the results have not yet been announced.
The final round will address the remaining 2 percent of New Yorkers, connecting approximately 120,000 locations, according to the governor’s State of the State agenda released last week. Round 3 is expected to catalyze more than £360 million in total investment, including £225 million in state funds. “In the fall, they said in December there would be an announcement,” Stec said. “And here we are on Jan.
2, and they haven’t said what those grants are.” “I would fully expect [an announcement] in a few weeks,” he said. A spokesperson for Empire State Development (ESD) declined to disclose an announcement date.
“No announcement has yet been made on Round 3 but I’ll be sure to forward you the announcement when it is made,” wrote a spokesman on Jan.
2. The first two phases saw a total of £40 million in direct state investment in the North Country. About 4,000 homes across a large swatch of Essex County were included in the second round, which was announced last February.
Providers received funds for projects in Elizabethtown, Lewis, Willsboro, Essex, Jay, Wilmington, Keene, Westport, Chesterfield and Newcomb. Work on many of those efforts is underway, with reps from Frontier Communications, Cable Communications of Willsboro and Chazy and Westport Telecom telling The Sun in November they were confident they’d meet the 2018 deadline. But lawmakers have continued to express concerns that some areas may be left behind, citing flawed U.S.
Census maps to determine which areas are served with broadband. Stec said the state Broadband Program Office, a division of ESD, is well aware of lawmaker concerns, citing a meeting in April in which local officials peppered reps with questions. “I still think they have a greater level of confidence in the maps than the people sitting around this room do,” Stec said.
The ESD spokesperson did not directly address that statement, although the agency encouraged local lawmakers in the past to conduct their own mapping efforts to identify any potential blind spots in their communities. Stec appeared at the legislative body’s annual organizational meeting. The state legislative session began on Jan.
3. Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t discuss broadband in his lengthy State of the State speech delivered that afternoon.
But the book detailing his agenda said completing the project remained a priority, and touted the program’s success in reducing the number of un- and underserved homes, which was 30 percent of the state at the program’s inception.
“Round 3 projects that address eligible locations will also have access to matching funds in federal Connect America Fund support through the state’s unique partnership with the Federal Communications Commission,” read the report. “After Round 3, it is anticipated that 99.9 percent of New Yorkers will have commitments for high-speed broadband access, with all but 1 percent having access to 100 mbps service or better.”
Bernard Jenkin (Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex) Picture: House of Commons
Harwich and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin has welcomed government proposals to give everyone the legal right to have broadband installed to their property.
Mr Jenkin said, “This Universal Service Obligation, or USO, has the potential to be a game changer for constituencies like mine. “It is astounding that in 2017 letters still regularly cross my desk from constituents and local businesses cursing the abysmal internet speeds available to them. “As I explained on my website during the general election, I also have an awfully slow connection and so can understand entirely how frustrating this whole situation is.
The Government has taken a major step forward with this measure.”
BT’s proposal for the ongoing rollout of superfast broadband under a “voluntary agreement” was rejected by the Government in favour of a stricter commitment enshrining in law the right to a fast connection.