Agenda item

Digital Infrastructure Update

Craig Bower, Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire, will give a presentation updating the Committee on Full Fibre and 5G rollout across the district.


A copy of the presentation is included with the agenda. If Committee Members wish to ask questions on the item, they are encouraged to submit them to the Democratic and Elections Team in advance of the meeting.






(1)        That the presentation be noted.


The Committee received a presentation from the Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire, which gave an update on the progress of full fibre internet and 5G mobile signal rollout across the county.


Following the partnership with BT Openreach that had been in place since 2014, 14,000 premises in the district had been connected to superfast broadband services. 98.5% of the district now had access to superfast services, an increase from 63% when the programme started.


The percentage of premises with no access to a connection of at least 10 megabits per second (mbs), which was considered a minimum requirement for getting online, was currently 0.9%.


The Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire explained that the focus of the current programme was to deliver full fibre connections to premises, rather than cabinets as had previously been the case. Openreach had published their rollout plans for delivery, and work to upgrade connections had been carried out in Banbury before Christmas 2021. A number of smaller providers would also be providing fibre services to property connections, but they had not publicly announced their plans due to commercial sensitivities. This made associated communications with affected areas difficult, as the upgrading of wires and poles involved roadworks and disruption to infrastructure. However, once the appropriate upgrades had been made and fibre connections were in place, it would be easier to make changes in the future.  


Regarding connection of business premises, the Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire explained that since 2019, 230 businesses had been connected via funding from DEFRA. The businesses had been in some of the hardest to reach areas of the district, and therefore not viable for commercial providers to install connections. As the base infrastructure was now in place, it was hoped commercial providers would use the connections to further develop services in those areas. 


In October 2021 a new project had started called ‘Gigahubs’. 24 public service buildings across the district had been identified as hub sites, which would have fibre connections installed that could then be used to extend fibre connectivity to local residents and businesses.


In relation to mobile digital signal, the Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire explained that the team had a focus on ‘small cell’ improvements. This involved the installation of small units on street furniture such as lampposts, to increase the available mobile signal. Initially the project would be rolled out to a small number of lampposts in Oxford, but it was hoped that by the end of 2023 up to 70 lampposts across the county would have the technology, including some in Banbury and Bicester.  


With regard to planning applications for new or upgraded mobile phone masts, the Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire explained that discussions were ongoing with mobile phone providers to encourage them to go through the pre-application process before submitting an application. Doing so would allow discussions to take place regarding the suitability of proposed locations and possible alternative locations, increasing the possibility of an application being approved.


In response to questions from the Committee the Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire said that the Shared Rural Network had been set up by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in 2020, which encouraged the four mobile network operators in the UK to share masts and improve digital connectivity.


At the discretion of the Chairman, Councillor Broad addressed the Committee regarding the danger to the radar altimeters on military and commercial aircraft of the frequency being used.


The Committee thanked the Programme Director of Digital Infrastructure Oxfordshire for the presentation.




(1)       That the presentation be noted.

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