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Oxfordshire broadband partnership celebrates rolling out superfast fibre technology to 70,000 homes and businesses

Press Release   •   Feb 13, 2017 11:33 GMT

Farmer Ann Gow says fibre broadband is boosting her business

More than 70,000 homes and businesses across the county are now able to access superfast fibre broadband as part of the multi-million pound Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme, lead partners Oxfordshire County Council and BT announced today.

And more than 40 per cent of households and businesses able to upgrade to the new technology as a result of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire roll-out have already chosen to do so – which is among the highest take-up rates in the country*.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: "It's fantastic that the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire scheme has reached this milestone and another 70,000 homes and businesses in the county can now get superfast broadband speeds. Nine out of ten UK premises now have the superfast option, and Oxfordshire's high take-up rate means that we will be able to extend the local rollout even further."

Three of Oxfordshire’s oldest villages – Cottisford, Cuddeston and Holton – are among the latest communities where fibre broadband has gone live for the first time recently, as well as in Claydon. More parts of Longcot are now able to get fibre too thanks to Better Broadband for Oxfordshire, which is part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

Longcot-based farmer, Anne Gow, who runs Farmer Gow’s Activity Farm, is one of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) already reaping the benefits of upgrading to fibre broadband.

She said: “The impact on my farm has been quite amazing. We improved our website and added an online shop to it. As a result, our online sales for firewood in October alone were almost more than for the whole of 2014.

“But it’s not just boosting online sales, it’s also playing an important part in attracting people to the farm. Many of my bookings now come through the website, including from as far away as New Zealand and Hong Kong. People can also see our range of products on the website and then pick them up when they come to visit.”

Councillor Nick Carter, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for Local Government, Business & Customer Services said: “Making superfast fibre broadband available to more than 70,000 households and businesses is a terrific achievement for the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme.

“We recognise the challenge becomes even greater as we move into the very rural parts of the county. This often means the distances covered by the engineering teams laying the new fibre optic cable are much greater than in earlier parts of the programme. But we’re confident of reaching our target of rolling out to 95 per cent of county premises, which will be achieved using a mixture of technologies**.

“Meanwhile the efficiency savings achieved in delivering the first phase of the rollout, is providing the opportunity for further reinvestment aimed at delivering coverage to more than our targeted 95 per cent.Further details of this will be confirmed in the spring.”

Stacey King, BT’s regional partnership director for Oxfordshire and the South East, said: “As we continue to extend the reach of Better Broadband for Oxfordshire, it’s great to see a corresponding increase in the number of people opting for an upgrade. More than 40 per cent of those households and businesses who are able to access fibre broadband as a result of the roll-out have chosen to do so, and the number continues to rise.

“Every day we’re hearing how fibre broadband is changing people’s lives for the better. Whether it’s families needing to connect more than one device to the internet at the same time or people wanting to work from home or run a small business like Farmer Gow’s Activity Farm – everything is easier and better with fibre.”

Because Openreach – BT’s local network business – is installing the fibre optic broadband, the network is ‘open’, which means households and businesses opting for an upgrade have a wide choice of fibre broadband providers.

Councillor Carter added: “As all this hard work continues, we’re also in the final stages of drawing up options of how we plan to reach the remaining four per cent or so ofpremises not yet covered by public or private sector upgrades. This could include co-funding partnerships between the county council and residents, where it would be too costly to fund upgrade work through the programme alone. We will continue to provide updates on these and other plans and the progress of the roll-out via the project website: http://www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk

Notes to Editors

*Among BDUK roll-outs.

**Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is deploying a mixture of technologies.

These include Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), which provides download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), which is capable of delivering download speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and upload speeds of up to 220Mbps. In addition there are some premises that are currently connected directly to the telephone exchange rather than via a green roadside cabinet, sometimes known as Exchange Only (EO) lines. In order to connect EO lines, further roadside cabinets have to be installed.

Speeds referred to are the top wholesale speeds available from BT’s local network business, Openreach, to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

---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

Or

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

Twitter: @EmmaTennantBTAll BT news releases are available at: http://www.btplc.com/News

About Better Broadband for Oxfordshire

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 construction 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.

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: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, 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

    All BT news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.btplc.com/News