Harlow Enterprise Zone has been revealed as one of the first three communities to benefit from the Superfast Essex broadband programme, as the first three ‘live’ fibre broadband cabinets in the county were unveiled this week. Nearly 70 businesses in the Harlow Enterprise Zone will now have access to super fast broadband.
In a joint statement Essex County Council (ECC) Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure, Cllr Kevin Bentley; ECC Chairman, Cllr Norman Hume; Colchester Borough Council Leader, Cllr Anne Turrell; Braintree District Council Leader, Cllr Graham Butland; and Harlow District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Resources and Enterprise, Cllr Tony Durcan, said: “This is an exciting time for this programme and these communities and two business parks which will stand to benefit. Enabling our residents and businesses to access faster broadband is important for driving the economy and day-to-day living in the modern world. This is just the start.”
In the Harlow Enterprise Zone, the launch at Templefields, in River Way, near the junction with Temple Bank, was supported by Harlow District Council and the Project Director for Harlow Enterprise Zone, along with representatives from the FSB, Harlow Chamber of Commerce, and local businesses.
Guests heard speeches from key partners, watched the official ribbon-cutting, and had the opportunity to see inside the new green cabinet and learn more about the technology in the BT mobile demonstration suite.
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director, Next Generation Access, said: “We have been working hard to get us to this important milestone. This is an exciting time for Essex and the beginning of a journey that will see the communications landscape completely transformed.
“This project will boost the local economy and help to create and protect local jobs. It will be of enormous benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”
Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said: “This is fantastic news for the people of Essex. We understand how important access to superfast broadband is – the UK already does more business online than any other European country, and the widespread access to superfast broadband that this £24.6m scheme will deliver will provide a tremendous boost to the Essex local economy.”
Greg Clark, Chairman of the Harlow Enterprise Zone Board, said: “Providing access to high quality broadband services is one of the central promises to business of the Harlow Enterprise Zone. This new service in Templefields will help existing businesses to grow and will also help us to attract new businesses to the Enterprise Zone, bringing new jobs to Harlow. We welcome this initiative from BT and the Superfast Essex project which we know will have a significant positive impact on local businesses.”
Superfast Essex is a £24.6 million programme to deliver the county’s biggest ever broadband transformation. The council is spearheading the programme in partnership with BT to make fibre broadband available to more than 87% of premises in the county by the end of summer 2016, with the potential to achieve superfast speeds of 24Mbps and above. Additionally, the Superfast Essex programme aims to deliver 2Mbps for all premises in the county in the project area, fast enough to use online services such as BBC iPlayer.
It is estimated engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, will lay nearly 900,000 metres of optical fibre and install more than 400 new green fibre broadband cabinets at roadsides throughout the county.
The programme builds on BT’s commercial plans, which have already made fibre broadband available to more than 500,000 Essex premises.
The launch in Harlow had particular resonance given the town’s long association with high-speed telecommunications. Harlow was the birthplace of fibre optics with fibre optic cable being invented at STC (latterly Nortel) by George Hockham and Sir Charles Kao, for which they won the Nobel Prize for Science. This site is now at the vanguard of the Harlow Enterprise Zone.