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Cotswolds Broadband Start FTTP and Wireless Rollout in West Oxfordshire

Thursday, May 12th, 2016 (9:38 am) - Score 937

The Cotswolds Broadband project, which last year won the contract to roll-out a new mixed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and wireless superfast broadband network to rural premises in West Oxfordshire (England), has this week officially started its 12 month construction phase.

The contract involves an investment of £1.6m (grant) from the Government, with Cotswolds Broadband also working to secure match funding from the private sector. On top of that the West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) has invested £1.6m in the form of a loan, with another £3.2m coming via private investment from ISP Gigaclear.

A mix of technologies is expected to be used in the delivery, including both a pure fibre optic network and, in very remote areas, enhanced wireless connectivity. The aim is that all homes and businesses in the district will be served and the network will also be “open to all commercial communication providers on a wholesale basis.”

Overall the project aims to ensure that an estimated 6,000 properties, where superfast broadband is not yet available, will have the capability to connect to the Internet at 24Mbps or greater speeds and the deployment phase is expected to run for 12 months and complete by May 2017. However the project’s manager, Hugo Pickering, informs ISPreview.co.uk that they hope to accelerate this and potentially complete the job in just 9 months.

Cotswolds Broadband Update (May 2016)

Work is about to start on the installation of 14 concrete plinths in villages across the district on which the ultrafast fibre cabinets will be installed. Dedicated cables will be run from these cabinets to form the backbone of the superfast network. The plinths mark the first stages in a programme of works which contractors will accelerate over the coming months.

While rolling out superfast broadband to the villages is a major project, every effort is being made to minimise disruption to residents. Cotswolds Broadband has been testing technology to install the cable which will avoid the need for major disruption of roads, drives and gardens.

Instead of digging trenches in the traditional way, machinery including directional drills and mole ploughs will ensure the cables are placed underground with little impact on the surface, wherever possible. Demonstrations were staged recently on the Daylesford Estate which proved just how quickly cable can be laid in a bid to ensure speedy delivery of superfast broadband to previously inaccessible locations.

Apparently a detailed build schedule, which will confirm which areas will benefit and when, should be forthcoming in the very near future. We’re also still waiting for some details on the service itself, such as what packages will be offered and how much they will cost, but this may follow later.

The project is in addition to the existing Broadband Delivery UK scheme with BT (Better Broadband for Oxfordshire), which is working to make superfast broadband available to around 95% of homes and businesses in Oxfordshire by the end of 2017.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    It will be interesting to see what ISPs take advantage of the wholesaling. For smaller ISPs, especially those providing related business services, it might make sense as they can be more flexible and don’t have the same issues of integrations with complex back-end systems, call centres, billing and so on before you even get into product definitions. There are things people can do manually on a small scale which just aren’t commercially viable on a large scale. There are all the issues over training, problem management, configuration management and much else that would be easier dealt with by offloading the whole issue to a dedicated team for the altnet.

    I suspect what might appear is something more like a reselling system than the sort of complex multi-layer integration you get with the major ISPs using the OR network.

    The guess has to be that for the mass-market ISPs (BT Internet, Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet etc.) it’s too small a market to do the integration work unless there’s some overriding strategic point to doing so.

    It does make me question the point of forcing wholesaling on small-scale public aided projects as I suspect it introduces extra costs with little benefit. Perhaps just some reselling service is all that’s required.

    1. TheManStan says:

      As Gigaclear are the providers it’s the Fluidata platform that will be used, Gigaclear have 4 partner ISPs, IDNET, Exa Networks, Amatis and VillageNetWorks.

    2. Steve Jones says:

      OK – that makes sense. Those aren’t exactly mass-market consumer ISPs though.

    3. GNewton says:

      @Steve Jones:

      “OK – that makes sense. Those aren’t exactly mass-market consumer ISPs though.”

      Does is matter? Who in their right mind would go with a big consumer ISP like TalkTalk or BT which have such poor ratings?

    4. TheManStan says:

      Exa and IDNET are niche business and schools suppliers, VN is a wireless BB company and Cotswolds is a fair way from their Bucks territory so hard to say how they interact with Giga at a wholesale level.

  2. Steve Jones says:

    @GNewton

    The question is about the appropriateness of forcing wholesaling on these sort of small state aided projects. Is there actually any point to it? Does it just add cost with no value?

  3. Clive Waller says:

    Press releases etc claimed 100% of properties in West Oxfordshire not covered by other schemes would be able to connect to superfast broadband. After waiting over 2 years for details of what would be available, the answer is NOTHING! Apparently my property is excluded because other properties with which I share a postcode are in Cherwell District.

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