Oxfordshire County Council has agreed a deal with Neos Networks for full fibre gigabit broadband connections to over 200 public sector sites.
They have reached a 20-year agreement, backed by a £5 million investment from the council and £2 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s GigaHubs project to boost full fibre provision in rural areas.
Neos will work with Openreach, Virgin Media Business and locally based Gigaclear to provide connections to sites including county council buildings, schools, libraries, GP surgeries, fire stations, leisure centres, community centres and museums.
It plans to deliver the first phase of the programme by March 2022.
The move builds on Oxfordshire’s wider commitment to improve connectivity across the county through its Digital Infrastructure Programme. It has an ambition to equip community centres to become working hubs for services including health and social care support.
It is said to be the first majority council funded project aimed at improving the service offering available at community centres and village halls.
Additionally, the new infrastructure should enable the council to migrate to lower cost fast broadband connections for its office buildings.
Councillor Glynis Phillips, Oxfordshire’s cabinet member for corporate services, commented: “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”.
Jess Tweedie, headteacher at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, said: “We are developing our school's technology provision and the use of ICT and online platforms and are investing in devices as a tool in the classroom. This hopefully will enrich and enhance our curriculum as well as the efficiency of work with staff.
“We would also like to host more online parents' events to support our community who largely work at the hospital and can find it difficult to attend meetings in person. Our current internet can only just cope with this and there is often buffering when many of us are in online at the same time, so having access to full fibre broadband will be a huge benefit.”
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