ULTRAFAST broadband has been rolled out to more than 500 homes and businesses in the Braintree district.

Network operator Gigaclear has made Great Saling and Panfield the first two villages in the area to benefit from full fibre broadband.

Half of the addresses in both communities, totalling 514 homes and 43 businesses, now have access to speeds of up to 900mbps.

This speed will allow for the download of a film in less than one minute, while the uploading of 200 photos would take less than nine seconds.

The operator said speeds available prior to Gigaclear's arrival were as low as 2mbps.

The work in the two villages is part of an Essex-wide rollout, which is set to reach more than 3,700 homes and businesses across 19 areas in Braintree and Colchester by December 2021.

A £6 million contract to carry out the work is funded by combined investment from Gigaclear, Essex County Council and the government's department for digital, culture, media and sport.

Tony Smith, Gigaclear's regional general manager for the East of England, said: "We are delighted to have arrived in Braintree with our full fibre technology.

"Poor broadband speeds are not something that households and businesses should have to deal with anymore, no matter how rural they are.

"The Gigaclear network is bringing life-changing broadband speeds to Braintree in partnership with Superfast Essex and we can’t wait to roll it out in more regions in the coming months.”

Lesley Wagland, Essex County Council's deputy cabinet member for infrastructure, said: "This is excellent news for these two communities in Braintree and a great milestone for Gigaclear and the Superfast Essex programme.

"We want to help as many rural residents and businesses as possible to have better access to online services and opportunities and the ultrafast speeds available from Gigaclear will make a tremendous difference.

"We look forward to even more of the Gigaclear network going live."

To connect Panfield to the network, Gigaclear dug a trench more than 11.5km long, allowing for the installation of its fibre network cables.

Digging spanning 30km took place to connect Great Saling.

The public are welcome at information evenings set to be hosted by Gigaclear in each village.

The Great Saling event takes place on Tuesday, October 22, at The Sailings Millenium Hall, from 7pm until 9pm.

Panfield Village Hall will host an open evening on Thursday, October 24, from 7pm until 9pm.