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Green light for pioneering rural broadband project

West Oxfordshire is set to become one of the first districts in the country to have full coverage of superfast broadband across all rural areas, as details of an investment programme are formally announced today.

The pioneering project, managed by Cotswolds Broadband, will cover the most rural and hard-to-reach areas enabling all homes and businesses to benefit and to be at the forefront of the latest digital communications technology.

News of this ground-breaking project follows the formal sign-off of a £1.6m grant by the Government. West Oxfordshire District Council is also investing £1.6m in the form of a loan with another £3.2m private investment from ISP Gigaclear.

The West Oxfordshire project will be addressing the most challenging part of the rollout by delivering superfast broadband into areas generally regarded as not being commercially viable.

Cllr Richard Langridge, Cabinet Member for Resources responsible for the broadband project at West Oxfordshire District Council said, “We have long held the belief that homes and businesses shouldn’t have to sacrifice being at the forefront of the digital and technological age simply for living in a beautiful rural area. West Oxfordshire has an incredibly strong business community that deserves to be able to perform alongside the best in the world. This project will ensure no one is left in the slow lane and future-proof business’ digital capabilities. Because of this I am delighted that the pledge made by the District Council to achieve full coverage is now coming into fruition.”

The network will be provided by Cotswolds Broadband and construction is expected to start in 2016, breaking ground in the spring, with all homes and businesses in the district served before the end of 2017.

Hugo Pickering, Chief Executive of Cotswolds Broadband said, “Our project will ensure an estimated 6,000 properties, where superfast broadband is not currently available, will have the capability to connect to the Internet at superfast speeds. It will also make West Oxfordshire one of the first wholly superfast broadband-connected districts in the UK.”

Currently superfast broadband is being delivered in up to 90 per cent of homes in West Oxfordshire through the countywide Better Broadband programme, run by Oxfordshire County Council with BT as its commercial partner. West Oxfordshire’s plans complement the Oxfordshire Better Broadband Programme by extending superfast broadband coverage to the remaining premises.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said, “Our rollout of superfast broadband has made great progress, and has already reached an additional 3.5 million homes and businesses that would otherwise have missed out. The transformation of Oxfordshire’s digital landscape is well underway and I’m delighted that another 6,000 local properties will now be able to get superfast speeds as a result of this programme.”

Additional notes
A mix of technologies will be used to deliver the broadband including both Fibre to the Premises and, in very remote areas, enhanced Wireless connectivity.

The new broadband network, owned by Cotswolds Broadband, will be open to all commercial communication providers on a wholesale basis. Customers will be able to buy the services through commercial internet service providers.

Cotswolds Broadband was set up in 2011 to address areas of West Oxfordshire that would be unlikely to be provided with access to superfast broadband under the Oxfordshire County Council programme with BT. Following a decision in May 2014 by West Oxfordshire District Council to invest £1.6m in the project alongside a similar grant contribution from Central Government, Cotswolds Broadband has been working to secure match funding from the private sector.

More information can be found on www.cotswoldsbroadband.co.uk

Posted : 09/12/2015 17:50:27

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