More broadband funding to boost rural connectivity in Oxfordshire

Superfast Broadband

More funding is now available to help homes and businesses in rural areas of Oxfordshire get access to faster and more reliable internet connections.

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) – working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) – have announced top-up vouchers are available to subsidise the costs of bringing gigabit broadband to rural areas suffering with slow speeds.

As part of the recently-announced Getting Building Fund, up to £1 million of additional Government funding will ‘top up’ the vouchers available from the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS), meaning even more money is available to improve digital connectivity and boost the regional economy.

The GBVS currently provides up to £3,500 funding for eligible businesses and up to £1,500 for eligible residential properties to install gigabit-capable connections.

The £1m made available will be used to increase the level of funding available under the GBVS, so that all eligible properties, both businesses and residential, can now apply for up to a maximum of £7,000.

Gigabit broadband is capable of download speeds of 1 gigabit (1000 megabits) per second.

Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, said:“Ensuring that all businesses and communities in Oxfordshire benefit from high-quality, fast broadband is key for our local economy, particularly when considering the ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Strong, digital connectivity is exceptionally important for those located in more isolated rural locations – therefore, the investment we have secured via the Government’s Getting Building Fund to support the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is of real significance.

“With this in mind, we would absolutely encourage eligible businesses to access this scheme where possible.”

Ian Corkin – OCC Cabinet Member for Council Business & Partnerships – said: “I welcome the increase in the value of these vouchers. It will help even more residents and businesses in harder to reach rural areas access the very many benefits of world class gigabit capable connectivity.”

Matt Warman, Digital Infrastructure Minister, added: “Better broadband is at the heart of the Prime Minister’s plans for an infrastructure revolution and I’m thrilled that Oxfordshire has teamed up with the government to bring next generation speeds to rural parts of the county.

“Our vouchers provide immediate financial help to cover the upfront costs of delivering gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach areas, and I encourage homes and businesses to check if they’re eligible by visiting our website.”

Businesses and residents in Oxfordshire are eligible to receive these contributions towards gigabit-capable connections if they are based in rural locations that are unlikely to benefit from commercial broadband rollout, are not in any existing government-funded plans for a broadband upgrade, available services are currently less than 100Mbps, and they apply as part of a group project (two or more residents or businesses).

Residents and businesses can visit the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme website to find a list of suppliers. Once residents or businesses have made contact with a supplier, they do not need to do anything further and the supplier will apply for the relevant level of funding required to support each project.

Applications for the topped up broadband vouchers are open with a deadline to apply by 31 March 2021.