Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK (Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport). The aim of the programme is to install fibre broadband infrastructure in areas of market failure, enabling some 80,000 homes and businesses to access superfast broadband where this would never have been otherwise possible. This is a significant enabler for growth in the Oxfordshire economy whilst enabling thousands of people to access digital services, including online services provided by the public sector.
The programme is run by Craig Bower (Programme Director), Mark Hopping (Programme Manager), Claire Hutchins-Lee (Data Support Analyst) and Tamar Bowley (Communications & Events Coordinator) with Susan Halliwell (Director for Planning & Place) as the Executive Sponsor and Councillor David Bartholomew as the Cabinet Member for Finance & Communication.
The original project was completed in December 2015 and targeted 64,500 premises. This phase of the programme comprised of £25 million of funding with £10m from Oxfordshire County Council, £4m from the Government (Broadband Delivery UK) and £11m from BT. Engineering work on this phase began in August 2013 with the first homes and businesses delivered in December 2013. This phase completed on time, on target and under budget.
The second phase of the programme ended in December 2017 and enabled a further 11,111 premises in the county access to superfast broadband. The total funding for this phase was an additional £10.2 million. Funding was made up of £2m from OxLEP, £1 million from South Oxfordshire District Council, £500,000 from Cherwell District Council, £250,000 from the Vale of the White Horse District Council, £200,000 from Oxfordshire County Council, £150,000 from Oxford City Council, £120,000 from SEMLEP, £2m from BT and a further £4m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The third phase of the programme will be entirely funded by savings-to-date and the early contractual windfall paid by BT of £2.56m, which has arisen due to the high level of take-up from services already delivered. This has formed two new funds totalling £4m, which will go towards enabling another 3,000 homes and business premises to superfast broadband.
The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme has now completed its planned work in West Oxfordshire. Further roll-out is being carried out by West Oxon District Council, which is separate from the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire Programme.