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Vaizey welcomes arrival of superfast speeds in 'hard-to-reach' Oxfordshire village

Wednesday, October 7th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Villagers in digital minister Ed Vaizey’s constituency will soon be able to upgrade to long-awaited high-speed broadband, BT has announced.

Residents in Fernham, Oxfordshire, have been campaigning for months to get superfast broadband amid concerns they are being left behind.

BT has now trumpeted the arrival of superfast speeds in the village, saying the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire partnership has overcome “unusual challenges” in the village to allow residents and businesses to access the same faster speeds that are available elsewhere.

Mr Vaizey, whose Oxfordshire constituency includes Fernham, visited to see first-hand how a mixture of technologies are being used by the partnership to get superfast speeds to the more rural parts of the county.

He said: “This is fantastic news for the homes and businesses in Fernham who are joining the tens of thousands premises in Oxfordshire that can already access superfast broadband as a result of our rollout.

“Together with Better Broadband for Oxfordshire, we are working hard to ensure that hard-to-reach areas in Oxfordshire, such as Fernham, are able to enjoy all the benefits that superfast broadband has to offer."

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation broadband, said: “Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a huge engineering undertaking and the rollout is going well.

“However, we encountered some unexpected challenges when rolling out the technology to Fernham which meant we couldn’t connect the village in the normal way.

“Our project teams worked together to find the right solution for Fernham.

“As a result, villagers will soon be able to upgrade to high-speed broadband – with many seeing a ten-fold increase in speeds – and access the same benefits that are being enjoyed by an increasing number of homes and businesses as we continue our ambitious rollout across Oxfordshire."

'Within budget'

Mr Murphy said there is still "much more to do" but BT is committed to rolling out faster broadband as widely and quickly as possible.

“Working with the government, local authorities and communities, we are determined to find solutions for even the most challenging areas.”

Councillor Nick Carter, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for business and customer services, said: “I am delighted that our programme has been able to bring superfast to Fernham using innovative solutions.

“The programme continues to deliver on time and within budget and we remain committed to the continuing rollout across Oxfordshire.”

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK.

The first phase of the programme, worth £25m, builds on the existing commercial rollout in the county, and aims to get superfast speeds to at least 90% of the county.

In February, the programme announced £5.1m extra funding that will allow it to extend the rollout to an extra 6,500 premises.

Locals in Fernham, who set up campaign group Fernham Broadband after being told there was no plan to bring superfast broadband to the village, previously complained of broadband speeds as low as 0.26Mbps as well as landline problems including crossed lines and static.

Cable.co.uk has previously reported on their disappointment to find they would not get fibre broadband, but instead would be delivered superfast speeds via 'wireless to the cabinet' technology, using a microwave radio link rather than fibre to connect the exchange to the cabinet.

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