The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire partnership with Openreach (BT) and Broadband Delivery UK has just installed its 600th street cabinet and is now within touching distance of brining fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network coverage to 97% of local homes and businesses (up from 69% in 2012).
The previous Phase 2 coverage target of 96% was actually achieved at the end of last year. At that point the project had enabled 76,055 premises to gain access to superfast broadband speeds, which reflected homes and businesses that might have otherwise had to wait years longer or may not have been upgraded at all due to being commercially unviable.
At about the same time the project reported that 531km of fibre optic cable had been laid across the county (mostly supporting FTTC / VDSL2 technology, with a little FTTP) and 59% of premises covered had chosen to take-up the new service by ordering it from an ISP. We should point out that there’s also a separate roll-out deal for 1Gbps FTTP via Gigaclear in West Oxfordshire (here).
The original Phase 1 roll-out was funded by £25 million (£10m from Oxfordshire County Council, £4m from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme and £11m from BT) and the various stages of Phase 2 cost around £10m, although we can’t recall the exact split or how much of this came from the reinvestment of gainshare (clawback) and efficiency savings.
However the work didn’t stop at 96% and the roll-out has continued, not least with additional grant funding support of £6.3m from DEFRA. This was intended to connect approximately a further 1,275 of the most rural and isolated premises in the county to “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband (mostly smaller businesses). Various Government voucher schemes have also been providing some support.
As a result the Oxfordshire project will in the next few days or weeks beat their original target and top 97% coverage (roughly 78,000+ extra premises passed). “Under the commercial terms of our contract this would generate a healthy income for the programme and this income will help us move toward a full fibre Oxfordshire,” said the council last month (likely a reference to further public funding being returned via savings/clawback in order to help extend FTTP coverage). We’ll keep an eye out for any new contracts.