Oxford hoping to use superconnected funding to fibre up city centre
Oxford is already pretty well covered in terms of broadband with 76% of businesses and 84% of residents able to get a service defined as ultrafast (80 Mbps and faster). The announcement last week that the city was successful in its bid for funding from the Government to increase this ultrafast coverage means that if the broadband plan for the city delivers that 96% of businesses and 89% of residents will have access to ultrafast broadband.
The coverage figures look unbelievable to many, but when you consider that great swathes of the city have access to Virgin Media 100 Mbps and 120 Mbps cable broadband products, and that many Openreach cabinets are already offering FTTC services it is really no surprise. One area that is often overlooked is the issue of Exchange Only lines, which under the commercial deployment by Openreach usually miss out on fibre services, it appears that the Oxford plan includes delivering a FTTP service to these areas (where Virgin Media is also not an option).
The core of the city which is the West End Regeneration area, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and various university sites and colleges will under the plan feature near universal FTTP coverage and a superfast wireless broadband service (the city plan includes a map showing this area for those not familiar with Oxford). The wireless plan is to offer a subscription service over a 1.95sq km area, which the plan estimates will be commercial viable with just 1,500 subscribers, representing just 0.25% of those visiting the area each month.
The plan centres around having in the region of £4.25m to £5m from the superconnected fund to spend to implement everything and £750,000 of money from the city council, county council and other public sources.
Of course the big question is when will all this happen, and assuming that the superconnected funding split when finally announced does not cause the original timetable to slip, we can expect the project to start in April 2013, with the bulk of spending complete by March 2014.