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Superfast Essex consultation begins: The Only Way Is BT

Superfast Essex is the latest of the UK’s projects to announce a consultation on deploying next-gen fibre-based broadband across the region. 

The consultation will see the local authority selecting a company to work on the Superfast Essex plan, aiming at overhauling the local broadband network. 

The plan, like virtually all those drawing money from the Broadband Delivery for the UK (BDUK) fund, will see faster broadband connections rolled out to at least 90 per cent of premises across the area by 2015. 

Superfast Essex consultation begins: The Only Way Is BT
A BT Openreach van spotted in the wild. Actually shot in London, not Essex, but all these vans look the same.

Read Recombu Digital’s report on Fibre Broadband and BDUK

BDUK terms any service providing download speeds above 24Mbps as ‘Superfast.’ The remaining 10 per cent of homes and firms in Greater Essex will be able to get a guaranteed speed of at least 2Mbps. 

Despite the consultation process, the only company left in the bidding race for BDUK contracts is BT. 

This means that Essex residents can expect to benefit mainly from BT FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) connections which currently provide a top download speed of 80Mbps. As with old-school ADSL broadband, the actual speeds you get depend on your proximity to a fibre connected street cabinet. It’s expected that a lucky few will benefit from FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines which offer faster download speeds and don’t suffer from the distance difference. 

Those not in line for superfast deployment can expect to see their 2Mbps service delivered over bonded DSL lines, basically a copper broadband lifeline, or via satellite broadband. Not exactly future proof solutions, but hopefully stopgap measures for when a proper broadband alternative for those in remote areas arrives. 

The consultation period will last until April 19, so we expect to hear something from Essex County Council and BT by then. 

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