Cotswold Broadband Group is planning to go to those parts in and around Chipping Norton where BT is not willing to go, and any Oxfordshire County Council project is not going to provide superfast broadband.
The project will be making use of the Rural Broadband Enterprise Investment Scheme (which has a minimum investment of £10,000) launched by Enterprise Private Equity. The project needs to raise £5m so that it can start rolling out to a target number of 9,000 homes and businesses in the Chipping Norton area and while the amount is not confirmed there is a hope that the RCBF will provide a grant of £1.8m. The total funding aim is to raise £10m by 31st January, which will help in other schemes for parts of Devon and Dorset.
"The Fund will make its first investments into the Cotswolds, North Dorset and South Devon regions. The largest of the three investments is the Cotswolds Broadband project, which will focus on delivering high-speed broadband services to over 9,000 households and businesses in the area around Chipping Norton. The Fund will access more than 5,000 homes and businesses in the North Dorset area and 1,200 in the South Hams region."Enterprise Private Equity launch details
While Hugo Pickering behind the scheme is quoted in The Oxford Times as saying this is an opportunity for people to get involved in the scheme, we are not sure how many people have £10,000 spare to invest the overall scheme. In theory the return on investment would be 21% in four years time (includes tax relief), though this assumes the company will be sold in four years time.
For those considering investing, the investment prospectus can be requested via http://cotswoldsbroadband.co.uk/investment-prospectus/.
The timetable is ambitious with plans to have the cable laid by April 2013, and service launching in June. Though at this time its not clear whether this means an initial deployment of a few properties and more will be added in stages, or a complete roll-out of the network.
If the project does receive almost £2m from the RCBF that represents almost 10% of the fund to kick start delivery to 15,200 fibre connections, if other projects need similar levels of funding, the RCBF might benefit 152,000 homes and businesses in the areas that other commercial and BDUK funding projects do not reach.