Oxfordshire high-speed fibre broadband programme passes 20,000 premises

More than 20,000 homes and businesses across the county are now able to access faster fibre-enabled broadband as part of the multi-million pound ‘Better Broadband for Oxfordshire’ programme, partners Oxfordshire County Council and BT announced today.

The major milestone was hailed by Ed Vaizey - Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy and MP for Didcot and Wantage - as a significant achievement on the journey to bring fibre broadband to Oxfordshire.

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK) which announced last week that 1.5 million premises up and down the country are now able to access faster fibre-enabled broadband as a result of public-private sector partnerships like this one.

Ed Vaizey was in the village of Sutton Courtenay, with representatives from the partnership, to meet some of the first businesses and residents there to benefit from upgrading to the new faster fibre-enabled broadband.

Ed Vaizey said: “I am delighted that Oxfordshire – and in particular, my constituency, has reached this very important stage.  Work will continue across the county and the country to ensure that high-speed broadband is rolled out so that we can all benefit from the advantages it brings.”

Four of the five new metal road-side cabinets that are needed to connect more than 1,000 village premises to the new fibre optic network have just ‘gone live’ and local businesses have been quick to upgrade.

Among them is Derek Johnson, Chartered Certified Accountant at Johnson & Co, based in The Nursery, Sutton Courtenay. He said: “The improvements have been immediately noticeable – for example, checking and managing online accounts is much quicker.

"Also, using online resources for continuing professional development and training is now possible, giving us the opportunity to develop and grow as a business.”

When an area has gone live, people who choose to upgrade have access to broadband download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.

Because the network is being built by engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – businesses and residents have a choice of who they take their fibre broadband service from, with more than 140 suppliers of fibre broadband currently operating in the UK.

Meanwhile, James Orchard, a director at Home Helpers Care, is looking forward to upgrading soon.

He said: “We’re very excited about the possibilities this new technology will bring, not least because of the way it will enable us to improve some of our working practices by moving to cloud-based systems.”

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire will make superfast fibre-enabled broadband available to 64,500 homes and businesses across the county by the end of 2015. It aims to ensure at least 90 per cent of the county’s premises have access to broadband speeds of at least 24Mbps, by building on the commercial fibre roll-out of BT and other companies.

Councillor Rodney Rose, Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council said: “These developments are a fine example of the benefits that superfast fibre-enabled broadband can bring to small businesses across Oxfordshire with so many quickly recognising the arrival of superfast broadband as an opportunity to expand their businesses.

“I hope to see many more businesses taking advantage of the technology, bringing greater diversity to our economy.”

Bill Murphy, BT managing director of next generation access, said: “Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a huge engineering undertaking but the roll-out is progressing extremely well, with more than 620 kilometres of fibre optic cable already laid by Openreach engineers.

“The rapid take-up of high-speed fibre broadband in the short time it’s been available in Sutton Courtenay is very encouraging.

“Our teams are working incredibly hard to ensure as many communities have access to the new technology as quickly as possible, because everything you do online is better and faster with fibre optic broadband.”