BT secures Oxfordshire and Worcestershire BDUK deals

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

BT has secured two further deals through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme, with Oxfordshire and Worcestershire County Councils.

The Oxfordshire broadband deployment project is designed to provide at least 90 per cent of the area's homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband speeds of 24 Mbps and above by the end of 2015.

The work will be funded in part by the council (10 million), the Government (4 million) and BT (11 million), and forms part of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme.

Broadband is now seen almost as a utility like water or electricity, yet there are still areas where access is non-existent or far too slow.

Oxfordshire County Council has also vowed to continue working with BDUK and BT once the initial 90 per cent target is met to ensure as many homes and businesses in the region benefit as possible.

Meanwhile, the harder to reach, more rural areas of the county will receive minimum speeds of 2 Mbps.

Councillor Nick Carter, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for business and customer services, said the deal will bring broadband to the area two years ahead of schedule.

"Broadband is now seen almost as a utility like water or electricity, yet there are still areas where access is non-existent or far too slow. However, everyone in the project area will soon benefit from this major investment," said Carter.

"Oxfordshire is the most rural county in the South East, so we have had to be pragmatic in trying to extend the social and economical benefits of broadband to as many homes and businesses as possible."

In other connectivity news, Worcestershire County Council has set itself a similar target of delivering high-speed fibre broadband to more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the area within the next three years.

The project forms part of the Superfast Worcestershire partnership that was struck by the council and BT to capitalise on the latter's commercial fibre rollout plans.

Worcestershire County Council has agreed to stump up 8.5 million towards the project, while BDUK has earmarked 3.35 million and BT will provide 8.9 million in funding.

Councillor John Campion, Worcestershire County Council's cabinet minister for transformation and commissioning, said this project will benefit local residents of all ages.

"From accessing services and learning opportunities online to assistive technology for older people and supporting home working, this investment really will make a difference to people's daily lives," he added.

BT is the last remaining bidder for deals through the controversial BDUK scheme, which was recently the subject of a scathing report by Government spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO).

In it, the organisation hit out at the scheme for reportedly being behind schedule, non-competitive and expensive.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.