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3000 Extra Oxfordshire UK Premises to Get Fibre Broadband After £4m Deal

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 (1:22 pm) - Score 653
openreach engineers pulling fibre optic cable duct

The state aid supported Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project has agreed to yet another “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) roll-out extension with Openreach (BT), which means that a further 3,000 rural homes will be reached thanks to a new agreement worth £4 million.

At present the scheme is already working to roll-out “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to cover “at least” 95% of local premises by December 2017 (72,309 premises have already benefited, 6,500+ of which are businesses), which is being supported by several extensions to the original contract. However the latest deal appears to represent a finalisation of the agreement that was provisionally announced in March 2017 (here).

Coverage Ambitions of the 3 Phases

* Baseline commercial coverage 69%
* Phase 1 coverage 22.5%
* Phase 2 coverage 3.9%
* Phase 3 coverage 0.9%
* Total c 96.3% coverage

Under the new £4 million deal, which includes £2.56 million of public investment that BT is required to return due to Phase 1 cost savings and clawback (i.e. high take-up of the new services, which has just hit 45%), nearly 3,000 extra premises should be reached in communities like Ardington, Barford St John, East Hendred, Lockinge, Lyford and Swalcliffe from the end of 2018.

On top of that the Oxfordshire County Council has also setup a separate fund of up to £600,000 from programme efficiency savings, which is being set aside to support co-funding of projects where communities are willing to share the costs of the installation work. Under this scheme, the council will offer to help by contributing up to £1,700 per premise and BT will often fill the final gap via their Community Fibre Partnerships.

Related communities can sometimes also make use of government grants / vouchers (e.g. Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme) in order to help bring down the cost. BT itself also offers grants worth up to £20,000 to help, although they only do that for areas where the new technology would benefit a “local school or similar organisation.”

Councillor David Bartholomew said:

“While today’s announcement is more great news for people living and working in some of the harder to reach parts of our county, we are continuing to look for cost-effective ways to reach the final four per cent of county premises not yet able to access this important service.

We hope our co-funding initiative will play an important part in helping Oxfordshire to have the best access to digital services, even in the very rural areas. We’ve already had interest from several small eligible communities and are keen to hear from any other communities that might be interested.”

Steve Henderson, BT’s Regional Director, said:

“The residents and businesses of Oxfordshire have been tremendously supportive of this programme with some of the strongest demand for fibre broadband in this country. They have been quick to recognise the huge opportunities this exciting technology offers.

Such high take-up of the service has enabled BT to make an early £2.56m ‘success dividend’ available to re-invest back into the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme to connect some of the hardest to reach properties.

This builds on the funding BT has already contributed to the programme, alongside our own fibre broadband programme. Across Oxfordshire more than 72,000 businesses and households now have access to superfast fibre broadband as a result of BBfO. The figure rises to around 265,000 when combined with BT’s own roll-out.”

The project’s Coverage Map has been updated to reflect the extension and in fact Oxfordshire itself already seems to be getting fairly close to hitting the 95% coverage mark for superfast broadband, which suggests that they should have no trouble hitting and most likely exceeding the next 96%+ coverage goal by December 2018.

So far Openreach has laid 460 kilometres of fibre and built 488 new street cabinets (FTTC / VDSL2 DSLAMS) as part of the contract.

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Mark Jackson
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.
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