Four years, Nineteen rural communities, 400+ premises.
Residents and businesses in the idyllic south Chiltern Hills are celebrating the arrival of ultrafast broadband at an event in Maidensgrove, hosted by local MP John Howell. The most recently completed coverage is for Pishill and brings the number of premises connected to fibre broadband in this area to over 400.
The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme is part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative which has so far helped take superfast broadband to over 95% of UK homes and businesses. Councillor David Bartholomew, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for Finance, said: 'A key factor in maximising success is deciding where the programme can deliver access to superfast broadband to the optimum number of premises within a given budget. The fact the partnership has given so many rural locations here in south Oxfordshire this access to superfast broadband shows just how successful the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme has been. Furthermore, the high adoption of fibre broadband services by Oxfordshire residents and businesses has enabled us to go beyond our 95% superfast commitment which means we get a return of funding from Openreach that is reinvested in further coverage - a truly virtuous circle.'
Openreach director Alan Hall said: ‘Phase one of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme saw hundreds of kilometres of fibre being laid across rural parts of the county. It’s proven to be really popular as well, so much so that Openreach was able to reinvest further funding to extend the reach of the fibre network even further, into some of the most hard-to-reach communities’.
John Howell, Member of Parliament for Henley said: ‘Although it has been a fairly long wait for these small communities to get connected to fast broadband, it is great to see the Oxfordshire programme enabling these rural communities to now have good access to what is increasingly a vital everyday service’.
The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire team first met the local broadband campaign group, Connect 8 in 2014 raising the challenge of connecting as many of the 18 or so communities in this area, to superfast broadband.
Peter Richardson, who fronted the Connect8 campaign working with South Oxfordshire DC, and the parishes of Watlington, Swyncombe, and Pishill with Stonor said: ‘BBfO always maintained that coverage plans were determined on a value for money basis, so we are delighted that so much of this part of south Oxfordshire was able to be eventually covered and we thank the BBfO team for maintaining their commitments and keeping us informed’.
Superfast broadband arrived first in Cuxham during 2015 and steadily extended into the other communities in the area, mostly with fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connections, before nearing completion in Pishill where the programme is delivering fibre to the premise (FTTP). Residents and businesses choosing to upgrade will be able to get download speeds of up to 330 megabits per second (330Mbps) and upload speeds of up to 30Mbps. Because the Openreach network is ‘open,’ local people can choose from a wide range of fibre broadband providers.
Local businessman Stephen Duckett, owner of the winery and vineyards at Hundred Hills in the Stonor Valley said ‘I recall being on BBC radio Oxford in early 2015 when Craig Bower cautiously suggested there was hope for us in getting connected to fibre from additional funding that was being modelled by Openreach. It is great for our team to be able to now operate directly from our Oxfordshire location to communicate all around the world with other internationally based members of our team, our customers and our key suppliers’
This part of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire rollout encompasses; Britwell Hill, Christmas Common, Cookley Green, Cuxham, Greenfield, Howe Hill, Little Stoke, Maidensgrove, Northend, Park Corner, Pishill with Stonor, Pyrton, Russells Water, Swyncombe, & Nuffield. Better Broadband for Oxfordshire has enabled over 75,000 premises in Oxfordshire to have access to superfast broadband and over 55% of these premises to date have upgraded to fibre broadband.