The south east’s most rural county to get BDUK funding
BT has secured more cash from the Broadband Delivery UK initiative – signing a £25 million contract to provide superfast broadband to 64,000 homes and businesses in Oxfordshire.
The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire partnership will aim to provide speeds of at least 24Mbps to 90 percent of the county by the end of 2015, with all areas having access to at least 2Mbps.
Oxfordshire County Council will contribute £10 million to the project, BT will provide £11 million and £4 million will come from the BDUK pot. The council says it will work with both BDUK and BT to secure additional funding to extend the reach of the programme.
By extending fibre coverage to areas that would not otherwise be covered commercially, the council says residents will benefit from a range of social and economic advantages as well as cheaper, easier access to local government services.
“This deal brings broadband to Oxfordshire two years ahead of the national roll-out programme,” says Cllr Nick Carter, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for business and customer services. “Broadband is now seen almost as a utility like water or electricity, yet there are still areas where access is non-existent or far too slow. However, everyone in the project area will soon benefit from this major investment.
“Oxfordshire is the most rural county in the South East, so we have had to be pragmatic in trying to extend the social and economic benefits of broadband to as many homes and businesses as possible.”
BT has so far won all of the money available under BDUK after Fujitsu withdrew from the procurement process earlier this year. This has led to questions about whether the initiative is providing the taxpayer with value for money, but BT is adamant that its experience and resources make it the ideal candidate to deliver such projects.
Oxfordshire County Council also says the deal is cost effective.
“The deal we have struck is good value for money and demonstrates the county council’s ambition for a thriving Oxfordshire,” adds Carter. “Without this intervention there is a danger that rural areas would be seriously disadvantaged, amounting to as much as a third of the county.”
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