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Rural Essex goes Hyperfast! Villages now among UK’s fastest as full-fibre network goes live

Our Hyperfast full-fibre broadband network has gone live in rural north Essex, offering some of the UK’s fastest speeds to thousands of residents and businesses that have suffered years of poor digital connectivity, Essex-based provider County Broadband has announced.

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 with speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. This is a significant improvement on the 10Mbps to 50Mbps available to most households in the UK.

Taken before social distancing rules

Villages gave the go-ahead to the rollout plans backed by millions of pounds of private funding last year. Government advice is that it views broadband as an essential utility and vital to the post COVID-19 economic recovery of the country. Accordingly, it has approved the continuation of new network construction during the COVID-19 crisis, giving the company’s telecoms engineers keyworker status.

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

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Local Councillor for Stanway, said: “I’m delighted that County Broadband addressed residents’ concerns about the outdated broadband in Dale Close and now have got Hyperfast broadband, especially in these unprecedented times when families have been in lockdown, this has been a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

Click here to get Hyperfast Broadband

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

It also means 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.

Eight Ash Green resident Ben Wilkins, who has seen his broadband speeds rise from 9Mbps to around 400Mbps, said: “We had terribly slow speeds and drop-outs previously. My wife and I could not be on the internet at the same time. We were struggling with streaming and online gaming.

“But now I can play and communicate with my son via online gaming with this fast and reliable service without any issues at all. The speeds are amazing! The connection hasn’t dropped out once. It’s stress-free and we are able to work from home where necessary now.

“We received great customer service from County Broadband. We were always kept up-to-date on how the build was progressing. We are exceptionally happy with the service.”

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.

The Hyperfast network provides speeds of up to 1,000mbps – 18 times faster than the UK average and even 10 times faster than existing copper-based superfast broadband that dates back to the Victorian period.

Lloyd Felton, 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 600m 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.

Residents and businesses can find out if they’re in a village covered in the rollout by using our postcode checker here.

Why full-fibre broadband can kickstart a new culture of remote working

The start of 2020 has been disruptive to say the least. The Covid-19 health pandemic has temporarily restructured our way of life in rapid and profound ways.

A rising tide of floods and storms have battered communities and left residents and businesses facing untold damage and despair. Growing concerns over carbon emissions from congested roads and industrial action affecting transport systems remain ever-present.

What’s the end game? How can local economies and rural communities protect themselves from such disruption with reliability and speed? One natural beacon of light for such foggy times is full-fibre broadband. We’re building our Hyperfast network in dozens of rural and remote areas in East Anglia, connecting thousands of premises to our future-ready service.

Data demands

Around 14% of the UK workforce (four million) regularly work from home and 70% of employees are offered flexible working, conference call provider PowWowNow says.

Meanwhile, average data consumption per fixed broadband line increased by 26% to reach 240GB per month in 2018, the latest Ofcom figures show.

But only 10% of UK premises have access to full-fibre broadband which provides future-ready speeds of up to 1,000mbps. The rest of us rely on a part fibre, part copper network known as ‘superfast’ which has limited speeds and can be unreliable during peak times.

Against this backdrop, the coronavirus outbreak has enforced large swathes of people to work from home. Early adopters of remote working, like us, have benefited from a smooth transition to provide a ‘business as usual’ service. Others less prepared have been forced into swift action, setting up virtual private networks (VPNs) and cloud apps offering task management, communication and document sharing functions for the first time.

But all require a stable, secure and quite frankly speedy internet connections. Especially as a national trial of en masse, large-scale remote working gets under way.

Click here to get Hyperfast Broadband

Creaking backbone

Could the significant uptick in demand strain the country’s ancient copper-based network beyond its limits and expose weaknesses? This is contested but certainly rural areas, from Thriplow to Tibenham, will be feeling the pinch as bottlenecks move from roads to routers.

What can we expect? Lag issues with video calls and conferencing for work and education, stuttering mass access to internet trading systems, and buffering Netflix binges as we seek an antidote for the common boredom.

We can’t forget those pesky cumbersome software updates too, or online gaming from those in self-isolation. Elsewhere, staple industry events are being replaced by live-streaming events. It would be remiss to not highlight that full-fibre broadband provides symmetrical speeds – meaning upload speeds zoom along at the same rate as downloads. From 4K video specialists and graphic designers, to farmers uploading huge agricultural files, the banishment of the lopsided download/upload ratio can only be a boon to productivity.

Office revolution

Once workers have their work-from-home appetite whetted, and once employers realise the productivity and other benefits, such as increased staff motivation and retention and reduce travel costs, then we will ever return to how things were before March 2020? Will the stigma of working from home be banished by the pandemic?

We must not forget the risks of cabin fever or depriving workers of collaboration, mentorship, developing a culture, support, socialising, even friendship, and of course the serendipitous chance meetings by the water cooler, not just to discuss the latest Amazon Prime hit, but to spark those elusive, vital eureka moments, as advocated by Steve Jobs. Issues with data security as personal laptops access work networks must not be overlooked too.

It should be clear to everyone by now that Boris Johnson’s infrastructure revolution, being accelerated by the likes of us, will be our sword and shield in such challenging times.

Residents and businesses can find out if they’re in a village covered in the rollout by searching below.

Coronavirus: County Broadband responds to UK government’s announcement of new restrictions

Following the UK government announcement (23/03) of further restrictions in response to Coronavirus, Lloyd Felton, chief executive of Essex based Internet Service Provider County Broadband, issued the following statement:

“The past few weeks have proved very disruptive for everyone with the COVID-19 health pandemic temporarily restructuring our way of life in rapid and profound ways. What has become very clear is that the internet has become the fourth utility, essential to employees remote working, children remote learning, providing entertainment and for staying in virtual touch with family and friends – especially for those in more remote rural communities.

“We are therefore today converting packages with data caps to unlimited data packages* and putting on hold inflation linked price increases that were previously planned to align our packages to the market as a whole. We hope this announcement will provide much needed help for our customers during this uncertain and challenging time. Our customer services team will also be providing additional support to those who need it.

“COVID-19 has served to shine a spotlight on the urgent need for the UK to upgrade its digital infrastructure and we are proud to be doing our bit with the rollout of full-fibre broadband to replace outdated, existing copper based networks.

“With approximately double the normal traffic through our network and streaming service providers Netflix and Disney+ both announcing they are reducing video quality due to the unprecedented increase in downloads congesting networks across the country, questions are understandably being asked about how prepared as a whole the UK’s digital infrastructure is for the surge in data demand.

“It should be clear to everyone by now that Boris Johnson’s infrastructure revolution, being accelerated by the likes of us, will be our sword and shield in such challenging times.

“Aligned to the very latest government and public health advice, we can confirm, as a recognised frontline service and following ongoing discussions with our contractors, that we will be continuing with the rollout of our Hyperfast full-fibre broadband to rural communities across East Anglia.

“We will continue to review and update residents and businesses as further Government announcements are made.”

*Applicable to all customers in receipt of a letter confirming their status as at high risk of COVID-19.

For the latest information, please visit: https://countybroadband.co.uk/covid19-statement/.

Residents and businesses can find out if they’re in a village covered in the rollout by using our postcode checker here.

Budget reaction: County Broadband comments on £5bn for rural broadband

Following the Chancellor’s announcement of a £5bn boost to support upgrading rural digital connectivity, Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, commented: “We welcome the news that the government’s plan to bring gigabit capable broadband to every home and business in Britain by 2025 has taken another step forward today.

“County Broadband is one of many Independent Network Providers already committed to building and delivering fibre-to-the-property (FTTP) networks across the East of England, backed by a combined private investment commitment that is already in excess of £1.5 billion.

Click here to get Hyperfast Broadband

“The Chancellor’s announcement that the sector is to receive a £5bn boost to support upgrading rural digital connectivity, together with the industry news that more private investment in the sector is planned this year, means Independent Networks will have a central part to play in enabling tens of thousands of premises to receive future-ready, full-fibre connections.

“Upgrading the UK’s underlying outdated digital infrastructure is essential to unlock the country’s economic growth potential and will enable households, businesses and communities to move out of the digital slow lane and compete with the rest of the world post-Brexit.”

Specialist Hyperfast broadband provider County Broadband, based near Colchester in Essex, is building future-ready full-fibre networks in rural areas across East Anglia following a £46million investment from Aviva Investors. It is on schedule to offer 20,000 homes and business gigabit capable full fibre broadband connectivity by the end of this year.

Residents and businesses can find out if they’re in a village covered in the rollout by using our postcode checker here.