Oxfordshire’s Gigahubs project showcased to government minister
Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, Sir John Whittingdale MP, visited an Oxfordshire County Council library on Friday 24 November, to see for himself how faster full fibre broadband is being rolled out across public services.
The county council showcased the benefits of its Gigahubs project at Milton-Under-Wychwood Library, near Burford. The minister used the occasion to announce £26.5m of new investment to extend upgrading of digital infrastructure across the county.
Sir John Whittingdale MP, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said:
“We want to make sure that no matter where you live or work, everyone has access to reliable internet, which is why we’re spending billions to upgrade local networks through our £5 billion Project Gigabit investment.
“From Goring Heath to North Aston, thousands in Oxfordshire will be able to experience the benefit of lightning-fast broadband – supporting households and businesses. What’s more is that young people will also benefit from training to take up roles in this ever-growing sector by acquiring the skills needed.
“I was delighted to visit Wychwood Library to see the benefits of new gigabit-enabled broadband and I am delighted that more premises across Oxfordshire will soon be able to reap the rewards too.”
The Gigahubs project has already provided 171 public buildings – including many of the county’s libraries – with access to next generation full fibre broadband. A further 22 sites are expected to be upgraded by 2024. The project is jointly funded by the county council and BDUK (Building Digital UK).
Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Corporate Services, said: “Transforming broadband infrastructure across the county is benefiting residents who use public services and community spaces. These include libraries, schools, village halls, GP surgeries, leisure centres, museums and fire stations.
“We are proud to be able to showcase government investment in digital Oxfordshire to the minister, allowing him to see firsthand, here at Wychwood Library, the quality of life improvements we are bringing to residents.”
The library’s new gigabit capable connection has led to decreased operating expenses and improved energy efficiency. The resulting cost savings and environmental advantages have resulted in a more efficient and productive environment for both staff and visitors.
Today’s announcement by the minister follows the county council’s recent success in being awarded £3.8 million of government funding to create a 5G Innovation Region. And significant investment by a number of telecoms operators building full fibre infrastructure in Oxfordshire.
Gigaclear has been awarded two project gigabit contracts to connect 10,000 homes and businesses in rural Oxfordshire.
Charlie Freed, Gigaclear Delivery Director, said: “Since completing our first network in Appleton in 2012, Gigaclear has enjoyed positive working relationships with Oxfordshire County Council and its district council counterparts.
“We welcome the award of these new contracts, which follow on from the successful delivery, in 2021, of a £21m project undertaken in collaboration with West Oxfordshire District Council. This was to provide around 12,700 rural homes and businesses in the district with full fibre broadband. It also provided a platform for further commercial investment within the county alongside projects, subsidised by the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme and the Gigahubs project, delivered in partnership with the county council and Neos Networks.”
Notes to Editor
Photo caption (above): Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Corporate Services (left), with Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure Sir John Whittingdale MP, and Anne Manwaring (Group Library Manager) at Milton-Under-Wychwood Library.
Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme: The government is providing up to £210m worth of voucher funding as immediate help for people experiencing slow broadband speeds in rural areas. Vouchers worth up to £4,500 for homes and businesses help to cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband to people’s doorsteps.
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