An Essex-based firm building new full-fibre broadband networks across East Anglia is competing to be crowned best rural provider in the UK after being shortlisted in the most prestigious awards event for the internet industry.
County Broadband, based in Aldham, has been unveiled as a finalist for the second year running in the hotly contested Best Rural ISP (Internet Service Provider) category at the ISPA Awards 2021, run by the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA UK).
Marking its 23rd year, the ISPA awards recognises the achievements of the UK’s broadband providers after a challenging year of surging demand for connectivity during the pandemic for home working and remote learning.
County Broadband, which saw an 80% increase in data usage at the height of the first lockdown, is building new full-fibre broadband networks in hundreds of rural and remote villages in the region following a £46m private investment from Aviva Investors.
The infrastructure will provide homes and businesses with some of the UK’s best speeds and help boost local economies. The networks replace existing Superfast connections which are often referred to as fibre but still rely on service limiting technology used since Victorian times, of copper cables to the home.
The news comes after a successful year for the firm which has been investing in local people and skills and recently celebrated welcoming its 100th employee, representing a seven-fold increase in growth since 2018.
Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said: “We are very pleased to receive this national recognition after securing a place as a finalist for the second year running. This achievement represents the hard work, determination, and passion our team has shown in delivering a much-needed broadband boost to rural communities.
“Installing new infrastructure on this scale is a complex task, requiring significant planning and can take time to deliver. It involves the coordination of highways, landowners, civils works and advanced fibre optic engineering. It is fantastic to be able to now be able to reward those communities who have supported our efforts, many of whom have been incredibly patient whilst these networks have been in-build, with future proof Hyperfast broadband. I am pleased to say we have many more communities in-build and coming online.
“The past year has elevated broadband to an essential utility and, whilst the region has just about coped, the ever-increasing demands on data usage means it won’t be long before the existing networks can’t keep up. We’re playing our part in ensuring rural homes and businesses have the full-fibre connectivity they need not just now, but for generations to come.
“As a community provider, we’ve been working closely with villages to deliver this service and we’ve been pleased to support local projects from raising funds for foodbanks to donating tablets to schools. This awards shortlisting is a testament to this commitment.”
Full-fibre broadband uses fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure where fibre cables are installed directly into the premises, speeds of 1,000 Mbps are available, which can easily be upgraded to 10,000 Mbps in the future. This replaces fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) copper-based infrastructure on which old fashioned ‘Superfast’ broadband is based.
Nick Lansman, the ISPA’s Secretary General, commented: “This year’s shortlisted ISPA Awards finalists demonstrate the high calibre and diversity of ISPs across the UK who continue to drive growth and innovation across the internet industry. In a year where we have been in and out of lockdowns, ISPs stepped up their efforts to provide vital services and technological advances to keep the UK’s digital economy pumping.”
The winners of the ISPA 2021 awards will be announced on 4 November 2021 at a ceremony in central London. See the full shortlist here: www.ispa.org.uk/ispa-awards/finalists-2020