Almost 3,000 remote households and businesses will get access to high-speed broadband thanks to a ?4m boost for Oxfordshire. The funding has come from cost savings made earlier in the roll-out of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire1 programme and BT making ?2.56m available for reinvestment. Partners say a ‘Gainshare’ mechanism in the contract has been triggered by strong demand for the new fibre technology from local households and businesses.
More than 45% of Oxfordshire households and businesses are already opting to use the new high speed service provided by the Better Broadband programme. This has helped to trigger further reinvestment through Oxfordshire County Council’s partnership with BT, says the local authority. The council also emphasised its commitment to work with communities not yet able to get superfast fibre broadband through any public or private sector roll-out by launching a new scheme.
A separate fund of up to ?600,000 from programme efficiency savings has been set aside for co-funding projects where communities are willing to share the cost of installation work. Under the scheme, the council will contribute up to ?1,700 per premises. Councillor David Bartholomew, whose portfolio includes responsibility for broadband, said it was “great news” for people in some of the county’s harder to reach areas.
He added: “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.”
The ?38m Better Broadband for Oxfordshire roll-out is part of the government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, with extra funding from Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Matthew Hare, chief executive of Abingdon-based internet infrastructure firm Gigaclear
ABINGDON-based internet infrastructure firm Gigaclear has won ?111m investment to build broadband networks across rural Britain – but not Oxfordshire. The company said the cash injection would create ‘many new jobs’ at its Abingdon headquarters. Gigaclear recently won several tenders to deliver broadband networks to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Northamptonshire through the Government-backed Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.
The new investment will fund the first stage of these new networks, along with other commercial network build projects. Existing shareholders Infracapital and Woodford Investment Management have committed ?60m and ?15m respectively with other shareholders contributing a further ?1m. Railways Pension Scheme RPMI RailPen is a new investor, putting ?35m into the company.
Gigaclear chief executive Matthew Hare commented: “This latest round of investment will enable Gigaclear to step up our speed of network delivery and is a clear signal of the confidence investors have in our continued expansion and success.
“Millions of rural homes and businesses across the country need better broadband and we want to reach as many of those in rural areas as quickly as possible.
“Our pure fibre network transforms lives by providing access to the fastest internet speeds to be found anywhere in the world and technologically future-proofing these rural communities for years to come.”