New £5.1 million deal will deliver high-speed fibre broadband to thousands more homes and businesses across Oxfordshire

The project will extend the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire partnership roll-out which began connecting the first homes and businesses to faster fibre broadband just over a year ago.  Since then it has enabled more than 30,000 premises to have access to high-speed fibre broadband.

The partnership is part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, which today announced two million homes and businesses around the country are now able to connect to superfast broadband as a result of BDUK.

The new deal injects further funding into the County Council’s contract with BT, adding £1 million from South Oxfordshire District Council, £500,000 from Cherwell District Council, £250,000 from the Vale of the White Horse District Council, £200,000 from Oxfordshire County Council, £1.2m from BT, and a further £1.95m from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Superfast Extension Programme (SEP).

When complete, it will increase the percentage of homes and businesses able to access high-speed fibre broadband in Oxfordshire to around 95 per cent, when combined with the first phase of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire roll-out already underway and the private sector investments.

More details about the communities to benefit from this new funding will be announced later this Spring and local people will be able to follow its progress via the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire website: www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk

Planning and surveying on the new phase will begin in the Autumn, and engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business - will start building and installing the fibre and structures before the end of the year, expanding the reach of fibre alongside the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme already underway.

Residents and businesses choosing to upgrade will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second (80Mbps) and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps*. Because the Openreach network is ‘open’, people will have a choice of who they take their service from, with more than 140 fibre broadband providers currently operating in the UK.

Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “Today’s announcement marks the next step in the transformation of the digital landscape of Oxfordshire. We want as many people as possible to enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband, and this new £5.1 million investment will help us reach thousands more local homes and businesses. By 2017, 95 per cent of the UK will be able to access superfast speeds and I congratulate Better Broadband for Oxfordshire for the remarkable progress they have made already in helping us deliver this.”

Councillor Nick Carter, Cabinet Member for Business and Customer Services, said: “I welcome this further funding, building on the £10 million County Council investment, and the greater opportunities it will bring for residents of Oxfordshire. The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire scheme has gone incredibly well so far, enabling many thousands of people to access superfast broadband who otherwise would not have been connected.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation broadband, said: “Today marks a giant step forward in the roll-out of fibre broadband in Oxfordshire and across the UK. Here more than 210,000 home and businesses now have access to high-speed fibre broadband thanks to Better Broadband for Oxfordshire and BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme. We are now reaching into the heart of scores of communities across the region that have so far been beyond the reach of this vital technology.

“There can be few areas of modern life which are not influenced in some way by broadband – whether it’s supporting how we work, how we learn, how we communicate with friends and family, or how we entertain ourselves. Now’s the time to embrace high-speed broadband and switch to the superfast lane.”

Councillor John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Our extra £1 million investment, together with the BDUK match funding, extends the reach of superfast broadband in South Oxfordshire in the small pockets that currently experience slower coverage. This will make a big difference for many people across the district.”

Councillor Ken Atack, Cherwell District Council lead member for finance, said: “The Council remains committed to improving superfast broadband across Cherwell and this money is practical evidence of our investment, and that of our partners, in this technology. Superfast broadband is a boon to our residents and our business community – and in an ever increasingly competitive environment, we want to help the district to continue to thrive economically. This partnership will help make superfast broadband a reality for more of the district, which is a key Cherwell ambition.”

Councillor Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “This additional investment ensures that we address the areas of the Vale community which still don’t receive the broadband speeds they need and puts us that much closer to achieving 100 per cent coverage.”