Major broadband upgrade for thousands of rural properties in Oxfordshire and North East Staffordshire

Thousands of people across rural parts of Oxfordshire and North East Staffordshire are set to benefit from new lightning-fast broadband thanks to £43 million of UK government funding, in a move to tackle the long-term challenges facing hard-working people and businesses in the UK.

Backed by £26.5 million, around 10,000 homes and businesses in rural Oxfordshire communities including Stoke Row, Somerton and North Aston will benefit from fast and reliable broadband connections. Meanwhile, £16.5 million will see around 6,000 rural properties in North East Staffordshire including Longnor, Marchington and Alstonefield receive internet speeds more than 30 times faster than superfast broadband.

With gigabit-capable broadband, these households will no longer have to struggle with limited bandwidth, and businesses will be able to improve their productivity with none of the disruptions associated with ageing copper networks, helping to build a more dynamic economy that delivers prosperity across every corner of the country. Having the fastest connections also means the UK is fit-for-the-future, with broadband infrastructure designed to deliver for people’s needs for decades to come.

The investment forms part of the government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit, which aims to ensure people have the same access to high-speed broadband wherever they live, work and study. From the Midlands to the South East of England, work will now get underway to survey thousands of premises in rural villages and communities, with spades in the ground expected by spring next year.

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, Sir John Whittingdale, said:

We want to make sure that no matter where you live or work, everyone has access to reliable internet which is why we’re spending billions to upgrade local networks.

In rural Oxfordshire and North East Staffordshire, thousands will experience the positive impact fast and reliable broadband has as their connectivity improves, supporting households and businesses, fostering growth and boosting productivity.

Work will now begin in these areas covering around 16,000 properties and by facilitating the fastest connections, we are not just reaping the benefits now but positioning the UK for a future where our broadband infrastructure remains resilient for decades to come.

Rural full fibre provider Gigaclear will roll out high-speed connectivity to premises across North and South Oxfordshire including Nettlebed and Fritwell, in a bid to transform broadband speeds and reliability for local residents.

In a boost for local schools and colleges as part of the investment, Gigaclear has committed to providing skills workshops and apprenticeship programmes to a diverse range of applicants in the local community to help them kick start a career in the telecoms industry.

Today’s announcement builds on work Gigaclear has already delivered in the area, connecting 25 vital public service buildings including schools, health centres, libraries and fire stations to gigabit-capable networks as part of the government’s Project Gigabit GigaHubs programme. Working in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council, the high-speed connectivity will help improve the delivery of public services across the county. For example, GPs will be able to provide remote video consultations and whole classes of schoolchildren can be online at once with no interruptions.

Gigaclear CEO Gareth Williams said:

I welcome the award of these contracts as they reinforce the important role Gigaclear is playing in helping the Government achieve its wider broadband roll-out ambitions.

We’ve already invested more than £70 million to extend our network across many of the county’s rural communities and once these contracts have been delivered, Gigaclear will have provided a new Gigabit fibre connection to more than 85,000 rural Oxfordshire residents and businesses.

Oxfordshire County Council Leader, Councillor Liz Leffman said:

We are delighted that local firm Gigaclear has been awarded the Project Gigabit contract for delivery of full fibre broadband to thousands of Oxfordshire homes and businesses.

This public sector investment in digital infrastructure is critical to levelling up areas where commercial funding alone is insufficient to secure the money necessary to make this build happen.

The project aligns very well with all the work the council’s digital infrastructure programme is doing such as the GigaHubs project which has secured a full fibre connection to Wychwood library where we are today”.

In North East Staffordshire, Connect Fibre will be charged with rolling out full fibre broadband to those currently struggling with slow speeds, in places such as Longnor, Marchington and Alstonefield.

Local people will further benefit from Connect Fibre’s commitment to develop community initiatives aimed to foster well-being in the region, by delivering free gigabit connections to Staffordshire Community Learning and Staffordshire Libraries sites.

Connect Fibre CEO, Stefan Stanislawski, said:

Connect Fibre is incredibly proud and honoured to be awarded the Project Gigabit contract to deliver full fibre broadband to the Staffordshire Moorlands and beyond. Delivering real, reliable broadband will change the lives of people living in rural areas and the region as a whole.

With our smart farming programme and free gigabit connections for community learning and library sites, our commitment to supporting the community goes beyond just broadband. We are excited to embark on this journey and look forward to witnessing the positive impact it will have on residents in the region.

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, infrastructure and climate change Simon Tagg said:

Access to gigabit capable broadband speeds is essential to our communities and businesses and so it’s excellent to see this reach extended by Connect Fibre through Project Gigabit.

Faster broadband improves everyone’s day-to-day living, enabling people to access health, education, banking and leisure services and more. It is also critical for business operations, growth and increased productivity. Our Superfast Staffordshire programme was a huge success and made a real difference over the last decade – now gigabit capable connection is the next step.

Across the UK, gigabit coverage has increased rapidly in recent years – from one in ten households in 2019 to nearly eight in ten today. These latest Project Gigabit contracts come as Building Digital UK (BDUK), reports that 929,700 premises in mostly hard-to-reach areas of the UK now have access to gigabit connectivity thanks to government investment.


Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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