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Oxfordshire UK’s GigaHubs Full Fibre Build Connects 180 Sites

Wednesday, Jun 26th, 2024 (9:00 am) - Score 320
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The Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and Neos Networks have revealed that their ongoing £7.25m “GigaHubs” project has now connected 180 public sector sites (schools, hospitals etc.) to a new gigabit-capable full fibre broadband network. But the work won’t complete until they reach the contracted 193 sites, later this year.

Neos Networks hold the contract for this, but they’re also partly acting as an aggregator, bringing together several connectivity suppliers — including Openreach, Virgin Media (Business) and alternative network ISP Gigaclear — to help build, manage and operate the new infrastructure. Once complete, it is expected to have rolled out over 1,500 km of new fibre, laying the foundations for a “smart county“.

The project, which is part of the GigaHubs (formerly Local Full Fibre Networks) scheme under the UK Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme, first began in 2021 (here) and has so far achieved most of its delivery milestones. Funding for the 20-year deal included a £5m investment from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), around £2m from Project Gigabit and £250k from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The initial project, delivered by the end of 2023, saw 175 GP practices, schools, libraries and community centres connected to full fibre. However, once deployed, Neos was engaged to extend connectivity to a further 18 rural sites in the county that were previously only connected via copper-based services, which is why the roll-out has not yet fully completed.

Craig Bower, Digital Infrastructure Consultant at the Council, said:

“Partnering with Neos has been instrumental in our journey towards a smarter Oxfordshire. By leveraging their high-capacity fibre solutions and expertise as a network aggregator, we’ve streamlined our networks and paved the way for a plethora of smart use-cases we’re currently exploring. This was by no means your typical supplier-buyer relationship and we’ve developed a deep and consultative working relationship with Neos throughout the process.”

David Bruce, CRO at Neos Networks, said:

“We’re delighted to see Oxford’s GigaHubs project start to bear fruit and that residents, businesses and tourists across the county can now access fast, reliable connectivity across so many of the most important spheres of public life. Oxfordshire’s clarity of vision and commitment to enhancing connectivity for both the unconnected and industry alike should be a model for other local authorities up and down the country to follow.”

In addition, as part of this, Neos Networks has provided £20,000 to an initiative purchasing new IT equipment for the council’s public libraries. The IT equipment can be used by staff and residents, enabling the connected hubs to become key pillars of community activity.

The new fibre isn’t just about serving public sector sites, since the new footprint of rural infrastructure that it creates can also help to incentivise other broadband operators to connect surrounding homes and businesses to faster speeds (usually requires a separate private investment). This seems to have played a role in Gigaclear’s Project Gigabit contract win in the county during late 2023 (here).

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
4 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ridwan says:

    Anyone know how I can check when my area will get FTTP?
    Previously, YouFibre assured me it would happen in May of this year but since then their website has changed to saying that they won’t be available anytime soon.

    Area is Headington Oxford.

    Will this project have an affect on making it easier to get Fibre to properties that are nearby to sites where they plan on building infrastructure to?

    Also, is it possible for the general public allowed to see planning applications/permission from ISPs?

    1. Avatar photo Simon Farnsworth says:

      Until it’s actually live, you can’t tell when you’ll get FTTP – all it takes is one nasty surprise in the ground, and plans fall apart.

      The best place I’m aware of to see what’s going on with FTTP is the “Better Internet Dashboard” at https://bidb.uk/ – this shows roadworks by infrastructure company, and gives some sense of who’s doing work in your area. It, for example, shows that Netomnia (YouFibre) have applied for permission to conduct roadworks on the London Road in Headington in July, and they’re waiting for a grant of permission there, while they have permission to do some roadworks on Ramsay Road at the beginning of July.

      But expect it to be a long, slow grind.

    2. Avatar photo Darren says:

      Notominia are doing work in Headington and Marston at the moment, and they are live in Cowley and Temple Cowley. They seem to be making slow progress though, so I wouldn’t hold your breath. Perhaps in 6 months, would be my estimate.

  2. Avatar photo CarpetMonster says:

    I’ve seen a flurry of netomnia activity in Headington on BIDB (https://bidb.uk/), including my old street 🙂 and works still scheduled into mid July.

    I think they have been piggy-backing some residential in with these works. There has been work happening in my village and the surrounding villages (where we only have very poor FTTC) just to the east of the city by Gigaclear since Sept/Oct last year. Still waiting for it to go live.

    https://mastdatabase.co.uk/maps/streetworks/ will also show what planning applications have been granted to ISPs, with some basic info not shown on BIDB (although the data feed sometimes doesn’t work).

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