Gigaclear wins FTTP contract in rural Oxfordshire village

UK fiber-optic broadband provider Gigaclear reports that it has been appointed to design, build, implement, and operate a fiber to the premises (FTTP) broadband network in the UK parish of Northmoor.

UK fiber-optic broadband provider Gigaclear reports that it has been appointed to design, build, implement, and operate a fiber to the premises (FTTP) broadband network in the UK parish of Northmoor.

Gigaclear applied for the contract via an open procurement process conducted by West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) after the parish secured a Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) grant from the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The RCBF is a £20 million ($33 million) pot intended to help communities to establish superfast broadband in areas outside the scope of the incumbent’s commercial or gap-funded plans (see “UK Government issues new superfast broadband targets”). The fund has been publicly criticized by the Independent Networks Cooperative Association – a trade group representing alterative operators – for the “tortuous” application process, and the majority of the funds remain unclaimed. The Northmoor scheme is one of just four projects to be approved under the scheme.

Northmoor made a good case for its need for better broadband. The village is a long way from the nearest telephone exchanges and 14% of respondents said they could get no broadband service at all. Twenty-five percent of respondents were either from business premises or from residential premises used by people to work from home and/or run their own businesses.

Graham Shelton, chair of the parish council and leader of the broadband group, said, “Better broadband was clearly a priority in such a rural location. We spoke to Oxfordshire County Council and were informed from the start that, because of its location, the parish would be likely to fall outside the area covered by the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) subsidy. That freed us to pursue other options. Our District Council helped us finalize our RCBF bid and find a suitable provider through an independent procurement process – ensuring the community obtained a socially inclusive service and good value for money.”

Shelton said he was aware of Gigaclear’s work elsewhere (see “ZTE UK and Gigaclear deliver broadband to rural communities”), and was delighted they won on the merit of their application. The network will ensure that everyone can obtain equally superfast broadband and that it will be available to all properties in the Parish – including a number of caravans, he added.

Gigaclear expects to start construction of the Northmoor network once the Stanton Harcourt and Sutton network is complete, finishing in September this year.

Cllr Richard Langridge, cabinet member for communities at WODC, said, “We are acutely aware of the importance of fast, reliable broadband and the difficulties faced by communities in our rural district in gaining access to this. The local community broadband project group in Northmoor parish has done a sterling job in bringing this project forward and our council is delighted to have supported them through the procurement process and appoint Gigaclear to make this scheme a reality. It will make a huge difference to those living and working there.”

Matthew Hare, chief executive of Gigaclear comments, “Frustration levels were clearly high in Northmoor – particularly among those trying to use the network for work. We are delighted that, by working together, we have been able to come up with a solution that will work for residents both now and in future.”

For more information on FTTx/access systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.


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