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MP 'delighted' with Gigaclear's West Oxfordshire fibre broadband rollout

Thursday, April 26th 2018 by Emma Woollacott

With a long-awaited project to lay fibre in West Oxfordshire now going ahead, Robert Courts, MP for Witney and West Oxfordshire, has visited one of the installation sites.

The cables are being laid by Gigaclear, which specialises in rural broadband services. The plan is to connect more than 10,000 homes and businesses across the district to ultrafast broadband by the end of 2019, and Gigaclear says the project is on track.

Installation work has begun in Tackley, with the village expected to be all hooked up by next April. Great Tew's installation starts next spring, and should be completed by the end of this year (members of the swanky club Soho Farmhouse should be pleased). Work in Great Rollright starts next autumn, and is scheduled for completion in 2019.

"It's exciting to visit a project of this kind and see the progress that has been made to date. I have already seen the benefits that this world-class technology provides and am delighted that West Oxfordshire will be at the forefront of digital connectivity," said Mr Courts, pictured with Gigaclear's CEO Matthew Hare and public policy lead James Fredrickson.

'Improve our communities'

"I fully support initiatives that improve our communities and support local residents and businesses. Full fibre broadband will encourage future growth in the area," he added.

There are two projects involved, with the first providing speeds of up to 1Gbps to 4,600 homes and businesses in the area. This is jointly funded by Gigaclear, which stumped up £5 million for the project, and by West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), which put £3.1 million into the pot between them.

And there's a second commercial project by Gigaclear in the pipeline to link its existing networks and extend fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology to another 5,700 homes and businesses in the area. Gigaclear has already built infrastructure in Oxfordshire that covers over 8,700 properties in 29 towns and villages.

"Ultrafast broadband is now essential to everyday life, so having access to a full fibre network will benefit people across the district," said William Barton, business development officer for WODC.

"West Oxfordshire has a reputation for innovation, and it's important we invest in the infrastructure to not only support this, but to entice other businesses to join the local area."

If all this is making you jealous, take heart: Ofcom recently announced that it planned to halve the upfront cost for operators of installing fibre broadband. It can do this by forcing BT to make its telegraph poles and underground tunnels open to rival providers.

It also plans to cut the wholesale price that Openreach can charge telecoms companies for its basic superfast broadband service, making it a more profitable business.

As a result, Ofcom reckons, and with many broadband companies having already made commitments to full fibre broadband, national coverage should rise from today's 3% up to 20% by 2020.

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