The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA), which consists of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Essex County, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock, has secured an investment of £4.5m from the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund to help build a new Gigabit broadband network.
According to the press release, local homes and businesses are “expected to benefit from the programme,” although the initial aim appears to be focused on deploying a new optical fibre network to hook-up 214 public sector sites (schools, GP surgeries, care homes and village halls etc.) across the Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford and Thurrock areas.
Under this approach the local authority would effectively become an anchor tenant for the infrastructure and in the future this same network could then be harnessed by other ISPs. Cityfibre started life by adopting a similar sort of approach in multiple cities across the UK and they’re now working with ISP Vodafone to expand on that by building FTTH broadband for residential users.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Chair of ASELA, said:
“It is fantastic news that collectively we have secured funding that will have a huge impact on the whole of south Essex and start to improve local and regional infrastructure across the area.
The power of connectivity is continuing to shape the way we work, live and play, and so it is very important that we continue to lead and innovate in the future”.
Whilst ASELA has only been formed for a short time now, the work that has already taken place shows the very positive impact that collaborative working and talking across district and borough boundaries can have across our region.”
Margot James MP, UK Minister for Digital, said:
“We’re building a Britain that’s fit for the future, and our plans for a national full fibre broadband network underpin our modern Industrial Strategy. This £4.5 boost for gigabit speeds in South Essex will build on the tremendous work already being done by Superfast Essex and I congratulate ASELA on their successful bid.”
The news follows only a few days after the Colchester Borough Council, which also exists in Essex, secured a similar public investment boost of £3.45m from the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund (here). All of these new announcements appear to form part of the LFFN’s third wave of projects (details).
We should point out that this investment is separate from the Superfast Essex (SFE) scheme, which is currently working with Openreach (BT) and Gigaclear to extend “superfast broadband” coverage to around 97% of the county by December 2019 (currently around 94%) and as close to 100% as possible by 2021.