Communities at the heart of Oxfordshire’s GigaHubs project
Residents are to benefit from faster broadband after Oxfordshire County Council announced its GigaHubs project has successfully installed gigabit capable full fibre broadband at over 90 public service and local authority sites.
The project is jointly funded by BDUK (Building Digital UK) and the county council and has now completed over 50 per cent of installations on budget.
Oxfordshire County Council’s investment is entirely drawn from income generated from a profit-share arrangement under its Better Broadband for Oxfordshire contract with Openreach.
Councillor Glynis Phillips, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: “Transforming broadband infrastructure across the county is providing a springboard to improve the services we provide to our communities and will be key in maintaining our position as one of the UK’s best-connected counties.
“We are proud to be delivering on our digital infrastructure strategy, bringing more opportunities and quality of life improvements to the doorsteps of residents.”
The project, which is contracted with Neos Networks, is building full fibre broadband infrastructure to a range of sites including community centres, village halls, schools, libraries, GP surgeries, leisure centres, fire stations and museums.
It is set to complete broadband upgrades for over 175 public service sites across Oxfordshire by the end of 2023.
The resulting access to ultrafast broadband reduces cost of connectivity, while improving service quality for end users and allowing public spaces to better fulfil their roles as community hubs.
Karen Woolley, from Woodcote Community Centre, said: “We’re always looking for ways to improve our services and facilities for local groups and individuals who hire rooms in our premises. Being able to provide good Wi-Fi connection has become an increasingly important aspect of our bookings, so we are delighted with the new full fibre broadband that’s been recently installed.”
Mark McCree, Service Manager of the council’s library service, said: “The upgrade to our broadband service at Faringdon Library is having a noticeably positive benefit on service delivery. We are seeing much faster speeds on public computers, staff PCs, self-service kiosks, and public Wi-Fi connections. The improved Wi-Fi now supports flexible working, meetings and hotdesking for visiting staff.”
Sarah Mills, Chief Revenue Officer at Neos Networks, said: “We’re delighted to be continuing our support of Oxfordshire County Council, installing full fibre connections in areas that have traditionally suffered from limited access to connectivity and digital services. As the project progresses and we move closer to completion, it will also provide a boost to the local economy as connectivity attracts new investment and businesses to the area.”
Neos manages the contract as a connectivity aggregator with fibre infrastructure delivered by Openreach, Gigaclear, Virgin Media, and Neos itself. Work on the project began at the end of 2021.
Following the council’s Better Broadband for Oxfordshire and Businesses in Rural Oxfordshire projects, the addition of the GigaHubs project will mean over 1,500 kilometres of fibre has been provided across the county.
This improved connectivity is a key component in enabling future innovation such as drone corridors, connected autonomous vehicles, and other internet services for residents and businesses.
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GigaHubs is part of Project Gigabit, the UK government’s flagship £5 billion programme to enable hard to reach communities to access lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband. It targets homes and businesses that are not included in broadband suppliers’ plans, reaching parts of the UK that might otherwise miss out on getting the digital connectivity they need.
Up to £110m of government funding will be invested into providing gigabit connectivity to as many as 7,000 rural public sector buildings including schools, GP surgeries, libraries and other public buildings. This will deliver a range of benefits, such as enabling clinicians to provide remote video consultations and allowing whole classes of schoolchildren to be online, at once, with no interruptions.
GigaHubs will also bring new fibre right into the heart of communities for the first time, providing ‘hubs’ from which industry can connect surrounding homes and businesses.