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RCBF Funding for 2 Rural Oxfordshire Broadband Projects Moves Forward

Tuesday, Aug 13th, 2013 (3:41 pm) - Score 507

The £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF), which aims to help premises in the most rural 5-10% of the United Kingdom gain access to superfast broadband, has allowed two bids for funding in Oxfordshire (England) to proceed (note: final approval has yet to be granted).

Until recently the RCBF scheme had been stuck in limbo because state aid rules prevent publicly-funded projects from overbuilding other superfast networks. Sadly many local councils chose not to publish details of BT’s state aid supported FTTC/P rollout and thus the RCBF couldn’t approve funding for separate projects in related areas without first knowing whether or not they’d overlap.

But thankfully the government’s recent intervention (here), which only occurred after a series of scathing reports and select committee events forced the issue to be tackled, finally appears to be resulting in some positive progress. In particular two schemes in Oxfordshire now look set to be among the first beneficiaries.

The projects are:
Cotswolds Broadband (serving around 5000 premises in the Chipping Norton area)
Northmoor, Moreton & Bablockhythe (serving around 480 premises near Standlake)

The Cotswolds Broadband scheme aims to roll-out an open access and 100Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to 90% of home and businesses in the Chipping Norton area of west Oxfordshire (England, UK).

Less is known about the Northmoor Broadband project, although their website envisages a solution that would bring a superfast fibre optic broadband connection to the door of every house in the three areas by connecting onto the end of Eaton’s and Appleton’s nearby fibre link.

Hugo Pickering, CEO of Cotswolds Broadband, said:

This is really great news as it allows us all to move forward to complete the picture of superfast broadband in our part of West Oxfordshire. The communities we represent are not content with sub-standard communications and this agreement takes us closer to bringing economic and social benefits to the area.”

Graham Shelton, Chairman of Northmoor Parish Council and Leader of the Northmoor Broadband Project, said:

We have been on a long road ever since we realized that Northmoor may be left out of the main county plan. I am delighted that now, after a huge team effort in the village, we should achieve our objective of a superfast fibre to the premises solution for every property in Northmoor. As soon as our bid for funds from the RCBF is formally approved, we will work with West Oxfordshire District Council to procure the service we need to deliver by 2015.”

Specific details about the bids and timescales for both projects have yet to be revealed but it’s extremely good news to see that some progress is finally being made. The hope is now that the RCBF will begin to release full funding for related projects in the very near future.

UPDATE 3:49pm

Hugo Pickering kindly informed us that the Cotswolds Broadband bid is for a little under £1.8m (i.e. just under 6,000 premises – around £300 per property).

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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