A PROJECT to equip 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Oxfordshire with superfast broadband is on track to be completed by the end of next year, say county council bosses.

And another five per cent could have internet speeds of at least 24 megabits per second (mbps) – capable of streaming films easily or for demanding uses such as video-conferencing – by the end of 2016.

Oxfordshire County Council yesterday said it was ahead of schedule in rolling out its £25m Better Broadband scheme as it celebrated connecting the 10,000th property in Weston-on-the Green, near Bicester.

The council’s cabinet member for business and customer services, Nick Carter, said: “This is a significant milestone.

“We’re currently ahead of where we anticipated to be.”

The programme began last December with the aim of increasing the number of properties that can connect to superfast broadband from 69.5 per cent to 90 per cent.

There are more than 285,000 county homes and businesses and 65,000 of these are now being targeted.

BT’s Openreach engineers will install about 400 cabinets, connected to telephone exchanges via underground fibre-optic cables.

The new cabinets will also be connected to existing cabinets, which currently serve homes with copper wiring.

So far 73 per cent of residents and businesses have superfast broadband but the county council’s programme manager Craig Bower said much of the groundwork has been done to carry out the rollout in time. Another 10,000 homes would be connected by October, leaving hard-to-connect remote areas.

The project is funded by the county council, BT and Government scheme Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Cherwell District Council and the county council have also pledged almost £2m, match-funded by BDUK.

This extra cash will be used to increase coverage to 95 per cent, and the county council will then consider alternative technology to get as close to 100 per cent as possible.

West Oxfordshire District Council has its own scheme, investing £1.6m to help communities set up their own projects.

Bob Hessian, parish council clerk at Weston-on-the-Green, said there were 42 businesses in the village that would benefit.

He added: “We’ve been on a slow speed ever since broadband was invented in the early 2000s and people who are really going to appreciate it are the small businesses. It will have the biggest benefit since the introduction of mains water.”

Who's already been wired up

Rural communities which now have superfast broadband: 
Weston-on-the-Green, Alvescot, Black Bourton, Carterton, RAF Brize Norton, Salford, Over Norton, Chipping Norton, Enstone, Eynsham, Cassington, North Leigh, Long Hanborough, Freeland, Yarnton, Summertown, Woodstock, Bladon, Wootton, near Woodstock, Witney, Hailey, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, RAF Benson, Benson, Ewelme, Wallingford, Ipsden, Crowmarsh, Didcot

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