Government minister hails superfast broadband boost for Oxfordshire economy
Matt Hancock, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture, has hailed the pace of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire roll-out as a ‘tremendous boost for the local economy’ ahead of his visit to the county. He saw first-hand how the technology is driving innovation and transforming the way Oxfordshire firms do business during his visit to Milton Park last week.
The whole area – part of Science Vale UK Enterprise Zone – now has access to faster fibre broadband thanks to Better Broadband for Oxfordshire (BBfO). The £35 million BBfO roll-out is being led by Oxfordshire County Council and BT, with additional funding from Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). It is part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme and builds on private sector investment.
Across Oxfordshire more than 70,000 businesses and households now have access to superfast fibre broadband as a result of BBfO. The figure rises to around 273,000 when combined with commercial roll-outs.
The Rt. Hon Matt Hancock MP said: “Nine out of 10 homes and businesses can now get superfast broadband, and we’re reaching thousands more every week. I’m delighted we’ve now reached more than 70,000 additional properties in Oxfordshire, providing a tremendous boost to the local economy, and helping make sure that the people of Oxfordshire have the connectivity they need in today’s digital society.”
More than 6,500 Oxfordshire businesses can now access the technology as a result of the BBfO roll-out, including around 250 firms on Milton Park, home to some of the county’s most dynamic industries, innovative small and medium businesses and world-leading life science companies.
Among them are Motors.co.uk, the online car specialists, based in Olympic Avenue, and printing and design experts, Carbon Colour, whose bosses welcomed the new development.
Phill Jones, managing director of Motors.co.uk, said: “As an online business, fast and reliable internet access is critical for our operation. It is great to see investment in the infrastructure to support the growth of businesses like ours and others in Oxfordshire.”
Nigel Allen, managing director of Carbon Colour, said: “As a print and display company we rely on fast broadband to send and receive large image files, so welcome the arrival of fibre broadband to Milton Park. This superfast service will increase our productivity and help us beat the tightest of deadlines that can be a problem when using just basic broadband.”
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted that all businesses at Milton Park are now able to choose a connectivity service which offers choice and affordability to innovative companies who are helping to boost a critical segment of the economy, not just here in Oxfordshire, but around the UK.”
Engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – have installed five new fibre broadband cabinets on Milton Park and more than four kilometres of fibre optic cable.
As a result, many households in nearby Milton village that were previously not able to access fibre can now get the many benefits of the technology.
Councillor Hudspeth added: “We expect at least 95 per cent of Oxfordshire premises to have access to superfast broadband by December, and I’m delighted to announce an ambition to improve on this. In partnership with BT, we are finalising plans to make the technology available to a further 2,000 premises as a result of contract savings achieved in this successful programme to date.
“We’re also about to launch a co-funding scheme whereby Oxfordshire County Council will support those very rural or very small communities which are too expensive to upgrade using public funds alone.”
Further details are available on the BBfO website: www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk
Nigel Tipple, chief executive of OxLEP, which contributed £2 million to the BBfO programme to enable more businesses in the Enterprise Zone to get superfast broadband, said: “This is a great step forward for Oxfordshire. Introducing superfast broadband at Milton Park, along with our wider programme of improvements to digital connectivity in Oxfordshire, means we have a great platform to ensure network capacity is available for our modern businesses to thrive and grow, benefitting the local economy.”
Phillip Campbell, Milton Park’s commercial director, said: “Giving Milton Park businesses plenty of choice when it comes to broadband services is very important to us. The timing of the extra service fits nicely with our new Park Drive East development.”
Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for broadband partnerships, said: “Superfast fibre broadband is transforming the way people do business and communicate. Whether it’s downloading or sharing large files and other information with customers, suppliers or employees, or uploading graphics and photographs, everything is easier and faster with fibre technology. As a result, it makes firms more efficient and competitive, and opens up new and exciting trading opportunities for local businesses across the county and around the world.”
The Openreach network is ‘open’, which means businesses and households choosing to upgrade have a wide choice of fibre broadband providers. The FTTC network provides access to download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads of up to 20Mbps**.