Rural Oxfordshire propelled into the 21st century

Independent broadband firm Airband has started work on its fibre network in Oxfordshire as part of the BiRO project, which delivers ultrafast broadband to businesses in rural Oxfordshire.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 3:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 3:55 pm
L-R Airband engineer, Tony Horton; digital infrastructure director, Craig Bower; Airband project manager for Oxfordshire, Andy Brain; councillor, Nick Carter and 
Airband engineer Sascha Hobbs
L-R Airband engineer, Tony Horton; digital infrastructure director, Craig Bower; Airband project manager for Oxfordshire, Andy Brain; councillor, Nick Carter and Airband engineer Sascha Hobbs

Work commenced on the project the first week of February 2020, with night works on Thame High Street. Airband is deploying fibre to the premise, ultrafast broadband direct from the exchange.

The Worcester-based firm specialises in bringing high-speed broadband to hard-to-reach rural and urban areas and has recently completed the second phase of a fibre roll-out in Herefordshire as part of the Fastershire project.

Airband Project Lead, Andy Brain, said: “This first cluster stretches from Thame to Chinnor. We’ll also be working on other clusters at the same time including the second cluster which goes from Henley-on-Thames to Lower Shiplake and Sonning Common and a third cluster from Childrey to Kingston Lisle, west of Wantage.

"We expect all of these clusters to be finished by June 2020 if not before.”

Oxfordshire County Councillor, Nick Carter, for the Thame & Chinnor Division, said: “Faster broadband is a game changer for rural areas and access to ultrafast connectivity will help so many of rural businesses to prosper and grow.

"A lot of time, money and effort has gone into the BiRO project because providing better connectivity for our rural areas is so important, both now and in the future.”

In order to provide ultrafast connectivity for businesses in rural Oxfordshire, Airband uses existing infrastructure where possible. Sometimes access to the infrastructure is via privately owned land.

Ryan Bezuidenhout, General Manager of the luxury Oxfordshire Golf, Hotel & Spa said: “We are happy to enable Airband to have access to infrastructure on our land via a structured business arrangement, making the roll-out of their business broadband network possible.”

Airband was awarded Lots 3 and 4 on the BiRO project in October 2019, for £2,852,216. Airband will supply 557 business premises and connect 619 incidental residential properties along the way, delivering total connectivity to 1176 premises as part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs funded programme.

The BiRO project is funded by £6.3m EAFRD funding through the Rural Broadband Infrastructure scheme to improve broadband for businesses in rural Oxfordshire and will provide ultrafast broadband to 970 SMEs across the region.

The project is managed by the Oxfordshire County Council Digital Infrastructure programme in partnership with Airband.