Digital Minister welcomes innovative approach to delivering high-speed broadband to Oxfordshire village

More than 70 homes and businesses able to access technology thanks to Better Broadband for Oxfordshire

More than 70 homes and businesses able to access technology thanks to Better Broadband for Oxfordshire;

Villagers will see their broadband speeds increase ten-fold

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, has been seeing first-hand how a mixture of technologies and innovations are being used in the roll-out of high-speed broadband by the ‘Better Broadband for Oxfordshire’ partnership to some of the more rural parts of the county.

He was in the village of Fernham to see for himself how unusual challenges have been overcome to enable residents and businesses there to access the same faster broadband speeds that are being made available elsewhere.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister welcomed the news that Fernham homes and businesses will be able to access high speed broadband. He said: “This is fantastic news for the homes and businesses in Fernham who are joining the tens of thousands premises in Oxfordshire that can already access superfast broadband as a result of our rollout.

“Together with Better Broadband for Oxfordshire, we are working hard to ensure that hard-to-reach areas in Oxfordshire, such as Fernham, are able to enjoy all the benefits that superfast broadband has to offer."

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation broadband, said: “Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a huge engineering undertaking and the roll-out is going well. However, we encountered some unexpected challenges when rolling out the technology to Fernham which meant we couldn’t connect the village in the normal way.

“Our project teams worked together to find the right solution for Fernham. As a result, villagers will soon be able to upgrade to high-speed broadband - with many seeing a ten-fold increase in speeds - and access the same benefits that are being enjoyed by an increasing number of homes and businesses as we continue our ambitious roll-out across Oxfordshire.

“But we know there is still much more to do. BT is committed to rolling out faster broadband as widely and quickly as possible. Working with the Government, local authorities and communities, we are determined to find solutions for even the most challenging areas.”

Councillor Nick Carter, Cabinet Member for Business and Customer Services, said: “I am delighted that our programme has been able to bring superfast to Fernham using innovative solutions. The programme continues to deliver on time and within budget and we remain committed to the continuing roll out across Oxfordshire.”

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. In February the partnership announced an additional £5.1 million worth of funding which will extend the rollout to an additional 6,500 premises*.

Residents and businesses will need to sign up for a fibre package to benefit from improved speeds, but because the network is being installed by Openreach it is ‘open’, so everyone can choose from a choice of broadband service providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK. Local people choosing to upgrade will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 megabits (Mbps) and uploads of up to 20Mbps**.

Note to Editors

* Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK. Totalling £25 million the first phase of the programme is made up of £10m from Oxfordshire County Council, £4m from the Government (Broadband Delivery UK) and £11m from BT. It builds on the existing commercial footprint in the county with the aim that at least 90 per cent of all premises will have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24 Mbps and above by the end of 2015.

In February 2015 Better Broadband for Oxfordshire announced £5.1 million of additional funding for a further phase of the programme made up follows: £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). This would enable the programme to roll-out fibre broadband to an additional 6,500 properties beginning in 2016.

For further details to go www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk

** These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.