BT has signed a deal worth just under £25m with Essex County Council to roll out superfast broadband across the entire county.
The deal, just one of many signed by the telecoms giant, should ensure that 87 percent of premises in the region are covered by fibre services by the end of 2016, which, the council said, should be of huge benefit to the region's 40,000 or so SMEs.
Funding for the deal is formed by a variety of sources, with BT itself stumping up £11.7m while Essex County Council is putting forward £6.46m. The government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework has also pledged £6.46m.
County councilor and cabinet member for economic growth, Kevin Bentley, said it was confident that the deal would ensure the county remained a viable place to do business and compete.
“These upgrades will make a real difference to Essex residents and, in particular, businesses that have difficulty trading and communicating online because of slow speeds,” he said. “We want to grow our economy and create an environment for businesses to thrive and grow, and better broadband is one of the ways we can help.”
BT’s Openreach division will now begin surveying the locations for the rollout with the aim of having the first phase completed by June 2014.
The deal is just one of many won by BT, which on Monday signed a deal with Nottinghamshire County Council worth £20m to bring broadband to a further 52,000 remote premises in the area.
Although winning the contracts has not been an issue for BT, it has faced criticisms from MPs and rivals for the way its has negotiated such deals and its prior refusal to allow councils to reveal specific rollout locations.
It has since acquiesced to government pressure to allow this information to be revealed, though, in order for local, innovative fibre providers to fill the few remaining gaps that its rollouts will leave behind.
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