The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme is striving to extend the availability of NGA broadband infrastructure beyond the Government’s target for 95% superfast broadband of the UK. To achieve this, Oxfordshire intends to procure further coverage of NGA broadband infrastructure (capable of delivering download speeds of at least 30 Mbps) in areas within its Programme Area where such broadband is currently unavailable, with a specific focus on enabling superfast broadband access for businesses operating in areas defined by DEFRA as Rural. Geographically, Better Broadband for Oxfordshire covers the county of Oxfordshire.
Better Broadband for Oxfordshire conducted its first Open Market Review (OMR) in July 2012. The Supplier returns from this OMR indicated that commercial coverage of NGA broadband in Oxfordshire would reach approximately 67% of premises within three years, leaving the remaining third of premises without access to NGA broadband. These premises formed the scope of a procurement managed by Oxfordshire County Council which resulted in a contract signed with BT Group plc in August 2013 to deliver NGA broadband to these premises. The state aid approved funding contracted was £13.8m.
Oxfordshire County Council now intends to conduct an open procurement in respect of business premises in the remaining rural area without NGA broadband infrastructure (known as “white NGA”), which comprises around 1,400 premises. BDUK received approval on 26 May 2016 from the European Commission on its new National Broadband Scheme for the United Kingdom (referred to hereafter as the 2016 NBS). Oxfordshire County Council intends to conduct this further procurement under the 2016 NBS.
Following any responses received to this State Aid public consultation by the closing date of 12 March 2018, Better Broadband for Oxfordshire plans to publish the final Intervention Area maps shortly after the close of the consultation period. This will be followed by the launch of the ITT to Suppliers to bid for the opportunity to fulfil a new contract to deliver the extended coverage.