Oxfordshire county council has awarded a multi-million-pound contract to BT, marking the start of a two and a half-year programme to bring better broadband to thousands more homes and businesses in the county.
The £25m million programme is made up of £10m from the council, £4m from the Government and £11m from BT. It will build on the existing commercial footprint in the county with the aim that at least 90 per cent of all premises will have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above by the end of 2015.
The deal will bring significant social and economic benefits to rural areas where broadband access may currently be slow. By stepping in to fill gaps not served commercially, the county council is ensuring that more people can get online and take advantage of a wide range of services many already take for granted.
The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme will make superfast broadband available to more than 64,000 homes and businesses across the county by its completion.
While the initial aim of the programme is to deliver superfast broadband speeds to a minimum of 90% of premises across Oxfordshire, the County Council will continue to work with BDUK and BT to secure additional funding to enable the programme to go further. The remaining very isolated rural pockets will receive a minimum of 2Mbps – enough to use email and web services efficiently.
Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said: “This is tremendous news for Oxfordshire, with more than 64,000 homes and businesses due to receive all the benefits high speed broadband has to offer by the end of 2015. We are witnessing a historic transformation in the nation’s broadband and the work we are now doing will reinforce the UK’s position as a leading digital economy and act as a major driver of local jobs and national growth.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for Next Generation Access, said: “This is exciting news for Oxfordshire. Fibre broadband will provide a strong, reliable connection to the rest of the world – a vital component in opening up new horizons for those living in rural as well as urban areas of the county.
“High speed access will help the local economy thrive, allowing local businesses to grow, attracting inward investment, creating jobs and stimulating growth. It will also provide new online learning and development opportunities for local people.”