23
June
2016
|
16:54
Europe/Amsterdam

Multi-million pound boost fuels expansion of high-speed fibre broadband across Oxfordshire

Summary
Up to £6.75 million cash injection will extend fibre network to even more remote communities; Second phase of Better Broadband for Oxfordshire underway after first part completed on time and under budget; Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey hails ‘tremendous progress’.

Big savings have been made during Oxfordshire County Council's highly successful roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband through the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme and BT - and these funds could now enable the fibre network to be extended into some of Oxfordshire's most isolated communities.

The first phase of the broadband programme exceeded many of its targets, and, as a result, the County is expecting up to £6.75 million of funds to be made available.

Since the roll-out began more than two years ago, Better Broadband for Oxfordshire has made faster fibre broadband available to more than 70,000 county premises – 64,500 of which have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) and above.

And households and businesses have been quick to take advantage of the faster broadband. More than a third of those able to access the new technology as a result of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire roll-out have already opted for an upgrade. This high demand has helped to trigger the further reinvestment through the County's partnership with BT.

The Government, which contributes to Oxfordshire's programme through its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) arm, has praised the County Council's progress.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project has made tremendous progress having taken superfast speeds to 64,500 additional homes and businesses in Oxfordshire. We are on track to reach 95 per cent of the UK by 2017, and this funding will deliver a welcome boost in broadband speed to even more Oxfordshire residents."

Following the completion of the first phase of the roll-out, work is progressing well on the second phase which will enable 12,000 further premises to connect to high-speed broadband by the end of next year.

County Cabinet Member Nick Carter said: “The first phase of Better Broadband for Oxfordshire was completed on time, and close collaboration between Oxfordshire County Council and BT has enabled some £4.2 million in savings to be made.

“At the same time, the high take-up of the new service has triggered a further £2.55m to be made available by BT for further coverage to be rolled out.

“This will enable fibre broadband access for even more households and businesses, including a number of the county’s smallest communities.

“When considered against the County Council's initial £10m investment and BDUK's £4m, this shows a terrific return and is evidence of the successful collaboration with our co-funding partner BT, who contributed £11m.

“We’re currently evaluating feedback from the public consultation we ran in the Spring and will use the results to help us plan how best to invest the funds that are available.”

Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for broadband partnerships, said: “More than 270,000 premises across Oxfordshire are now able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of BT’s own investment and the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire roll-out.

“Every day we’re hearing how the technology is changing people’s lives for the better, whether it’s families wanting to connect several devices to the internet at the same time, or a small business needing to share large pieces of information with their customers and suppliers – everything is easier, better and faster with fibre broadband.”

The results of the Council’s public consultation will be published later in the Summer.

In the meantime, local people can track the progress of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire roll-out via the website – www.betterbroadbandforoxfordshire.org

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,’ local people can choose from a wide range of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 currently operating in the UK.

Note to Editors

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

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK.

The first phase of the programme was comprised of £25 million of funding: £10m from Oxfordshire County Council, £4m from the Government (Broadband Delivery UK) and £11m from BT. Engineering work on this phase began in August 2013 with the first homes and businesses going live in December 2013.

Further funding of £5.1 million to roll out fibre broadband was announced in February 2015 and work began earlier this year. Funding was made up of £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).

Additional funding of £5.58 million was announced in November 2015. This will increase the percentage of county homes and businesses able to get superfast fibre broadband to more than 95 per cent when combined with earlier phases of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme and the private sector’s commercial roll-out of the technology. This funding comprises: £2 million from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP); £120,000 from the South East Midlands LEP and Cherwell District Council; £168,000 from Oxford City Council; £2.2 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme and £1.1 million from BT. When combined the additional funding adds a further 12,000 premises to the programme.

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

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire has now completed its planned work in West Oxfordshire. Further roll-out is being carried out here by Cotswold Broadband, which is separate from Better Broadband for Oxfordshire.

--ends--

Issued by Oxfordshire County Council and BT on behalf of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire partnership.

Press contacts:

For more information please contact Emily Reed at Oxfordshire County Council on 01865 323 870 or email:emily.reed@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Twitter: @OxfordshireCC

Emma Tennant at the BT regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com

Twitter: @EmmaTennantBT

All BT news releases are available at: http://www.btplc.com/News

About Superfast Britain

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race.

The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

  1. £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017;
  2. £150m to provide high-speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities; and
  3. £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.

    Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

    About BT

    BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

    British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

    For more information, visit www.btplc.com