In a bid to improve connectivity and digital inclusion across the county, Neos Networks, one of the UK’s leading business connectivity providers, has been selected by Oxfordshire County Council to build full fibre gigabit capable broadband infrastructure to a range of public sector and local authority sites in the region. These sites include schools, libraries, county council buildings, GP surgeries, fire stations, leisure centres, community centres and museums. As part of a 20-year deal, Neos will work with Openreach, Virgin Media Business and locally based Gigaclear.
The project is funded with a £5 million investment from Oxfordshire County Council and circa £2 million investment from the government’s DCMS GigaHubs project, part of Project Gigabit. The GigaHubs project provides a footprint of rural full fibre that will incentivise broadband providers to connect surrounding homes and businesses to next-generation speeds.
Currently 98.4% of Oxfordshire has access to superfast broadband, however, this initiative will significantly improve connectivity for over 200 buildings which provide a public service, many of which are located in rural locations where fibre connectivity is both difficult to facilitate and expensive to provision. Neos will manage the implementation with the first phase of the programme set to be delivered by March 2022. This marks the first majority council-funded project aimed at improving the service offering available at community centres and village halls while also offering a more cost-effective connectivity solution for public sector sites.
Julia Lopez, Digital Infrastructure Minister, said: “This huge government-funded deal for Oxfordshire will mean better public services that deliver more for communities and faster rollout of better broadband for surrounding homes and businesses. Upgrading schools, hospitals, libraries and other public buildings is just one way our £5 billion Project Gigabit scheme is levelling up the UK, with thousands of rural homes and businesses set to receive the fastest, most resilient connections available. This is not just about fantastic Internet speeds but about future-proofing homes and businesses for a world in which technology plays an increasingly important role, from healthcare and education to industrial application.”
The project builds on Oxfordshire’s wider commitment to improve connectivity across the county through its Digital Infrastructure Programme. It will enable Oxfordshire County Council to realise its ambitions for equipping community centres to become ‘community working hubs’ offering enhanced community services, health and social care support and reducing the need for people to travel further afield to access these services. This will in turn help the county council meet its objective for net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Additionally, the new infrastructure will allow the council to migrate to lower cost fast broadband connections for its office buildings.
“This is an exciting time for Oxfordshire,” said Councillor Glynis Phillips, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Services. “We are putting a lot of time and resource into ensuring that we are one of the best connected counties in the UK. This project strengthens our commitment to our Digital Infrastructure strategy and to improving local access to services, reducing the need to travel. We particularly look forward to finding ways to maximise the range of services that will be enabled in Oxfordshire’s vibrant community centres and village halls where collaboration with parish, district and the county council will be key alongside our colleagues in the NHS.”
Neos was awarded the contract following a competitive procurement process, due to its ability to aggregate and manage multiple broadband suppliers to deliver the best and most cost-effective solution to Oxfordshire County Council. In doing so, Neos will leverage existing infrastructure as well as delivering entirely new full fibre connectivity to the sites in scope. In addition to driving the delivery of gigabit services for the council and its stakeholders, the new infrastructure will also encourage the build of FTTP services by AltNets in the region.Click below to share this article