The council’s Digital Infrastructure Team engages with fibre broadband operators, encouraging investment in Oxfordshire, whilst also working with the government on digital infrastructure interventions in areas of market failure.
The programme currently manages the following active projects:
- Businesses in Rural Oxfordshire – EAFRD funded contracts with BT and Airband delivering ultrafast fibre broadband to rural Oxfordshire, focused on improving business productivity
- GigaHubs – contract with Neos Networks to connect over 200 public service sites with gigabit-capable broadband
- 5G Coverage – Collaboration with FreshWave to utilise existing street furniture to rollout of 5G across the city
- Project Gigabit – DCMS funding of up to £114m to extend full-fibre coverage to over 68,000 hard-to-reach premises in Oxfordshire & West Berkshire
- BDUK Gigabit Voucher scheme, subject to availability/timing of Project Gigabit
- County Council procurement of broadband connectivity for all council buildings
- Better Broadband for Oxfordshire – no longer an active programme as contract now completed enabling over 90,000 premises to access superfast broadband. The contract savings and income generation from this contract entirely funds the programme’s ongoing costs
Digital Infrastructure Strategy
The Digital Infrastructure Strategy sets out the framework for delivering full-fibre broadband and mobile provision across Oxfordshire. It builds on the extensive work that the Digital Infrastructure Programme has done with suppliers, partners, and government to get superfast broadband access to over 97% of premises in Oxfordshire.
The strategy was approved by Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet members on 17 March 2020 and is underpinned by a formal Digital Infrastructure Partnership with Oxford City Council, OxLEP and all Oxfordshire district councils
The Digital Infrastructure Programme website hosts a coverage map, showing an overview of the current and future broadband provision across Oxfordshire. It provides details of existing speeds and details of any known planned upgrades due soon.
The Digital Infrastructure Team use proactive communication through Social Media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and NextDoor to communicate key messages to residents and businesses around the works of the programme and commercial operators plans, including awareness campaigns of roadworks by fibre providers.
The team are actively involved in community and supplier engagement and are keen to encourage individuals to contact them if they have any queries or wish to provide feedback.
Businesses in Rural Oxfordshire
Businesses in Rural Oxfordshire is a European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) funded project under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The £6.3M grant was awarded to Oxfordshire County Council in 2018, to provide as many rural businesses as possible with full-fibre broadband with the available funding. Following a procurement, contracts were awarded in 2019 to BT and Airband to deliver c.1,000 business premises across Oxfordshire. Under these contracts, a further 900 residential properties are also being delivered at no additional cost. Delivery began in October 2019 and will run through to Sept 2022.
GigaHubs in Oxfordshire
The GigaHubs project marks the first majority council-funded investment in digital infrastructure with £5m from Oxfordshire County Council and circa £2m investment from DCMS. The project's aim is to bring new fibre infrastructure to public service sites and community buildings.
A contract was awarded to Neos Networks in October 2021 to connect over 200 public service sites to gigabit-capable broadband, which will include: schools, GP practices, fire stations, libraries, leisure centres, community centres and museums.
Delivery is already underway, and the project is anticipated to be completed by December 2023.
5G coverage in Oxfordshire
The Digital Infrastructure Team’s remit is to improve all forms of digital connectivity in Oxfordshire and this includes mobile coverage.
One such area we have been working on for two years is how to agree a suitable model for allowing MNO’s to have access to our street furniture in a bid to expedite delivery of small-cell 5G mobile coverage in urban areas (by its nature small-cell is not typically relevant to small towns/villages).
In November 2021 Oxfordshire County Council signed a framework contract with FreshWave to roll out a number of small-cell 5G sites using our street furniture assets. This agreement, which will see a range of operators being able to rent space on these assets is in place for a period of fifteen years and will provide a small income for the council each year.
Project Gigabit in Oxfordshire
Project Gigabit is a £5bn Government run national programme aimed at reaching more than one million hard-to-reach homes and business with gigabit broadband to at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025.
Oxfordshire is scheduled to be in the next phase of the project rollout due to begin in 2023. Contracts worth in the region of £60m will be procured by DCMS for delivery of gigabit capable broadband infrastructure to approximately 68,600 hard-to-reach premises in Oxfordshire and West Berkshire where public funding is needed to support private investment.
The Public Review for Project Gigabit ran from 4 Feb 2022 to the 4 March 2022 and the intervention area for the project is currently being refined by BDUK, prior to the launch of procurement activity later in the year. Further updates will be added when available.
Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
The government launched the latest version of its Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme in 2021 to help to cover the cost of installing gigabit-capable connections to eligible rural homes and businesses across the UK when part of a group project and with applicants having broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps.
BDUK issued a voucher pause across Oxfordshire on the 8 April 2022 to allow them to refine their Intervention Area for Project Gigabit. All schemes not already in active build are paused and are currently being reviewed by BDUK. We expect to have the outcome of their review for schemes in September and will update the community scheme leads and relevant suppliers when we do.
As the IT service migrates all corporate building’s connectivity away from a managed services contract using leased lines, the DIP team is responsible for assessing current and planned availability of broadband replacement connections. The team then manages the individual site connection procurements and manages an ongoing assessment of value for money/contract management
Better Broadband for Oxfordshire
Better Broadband for Oxfordshire was initiated in 2013 as a partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK (part of Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport - DCMS) and completed in December 2020 with >90,000 superfast premises delivered.
How fibre broadband has benefitted Will Brocklebank, CEO of Shepherd
“Fast broadband is not a luxury; it’s an absolute necessity. I run an Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning business with a distributed team across the UK, so connectivity is vital – the Better Broadband programme has effectively made it possible for me to do this.”
Since upgrading to superfast fibre broadband, Will’s download speeds have soared to 72Mbps from around 5Mbps, which is great news for his business that he runs from home, as well as for his family.
Visit the Digital Infrastructure Programme website to read the full case study.
Share your experience
We are always keen to hear about your experience of upgrading to faster broadband and how it has directly benefitted you?