Neos Networks advances Oxfordshire GigaHubs project

Marking the latest stage in a 20-year partnership between the business connectivity provider and the local authority that aims to achieve the latter’s vision of a Smart County, Neos Networks and Oxfordshire County Council have announced an update on its GigaHubs project with the news that full-fibre connectivity has now been provided to 180 out of 193 public buildings contracted under the scheme.

Initially announced in 2021, GigaHubs aims to enhance digital and social inclusion by providing gigabit-capable connectivity to eligible rural public sector buildings, such as schools, GP surgeries and libraries.

Notably, the GigaHubs project is the first majority council-funded project aimed at improving the service available at local sites. The project has so far seen £5m investment from Oxfordshire County Council, £2m from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Project Gigabit programme, and a further £250,000 from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Using its high-capacity fibre network and services – and aggregating local fibre networks from Openreach, Virgin Media Business and Gigaclear – the initial project, delivered by the end of 2023, saw 175 GP practices, schools, libraries and community centres connected to full-fibre.

However, once deployed, Neos Networks was engaged to extend connectivity to a further 18 rural sites in the county that were previously only connected via copper-based services. The fibre networks are now claimed to be enabling faster provisioning of public services at a fraction of the cost due to Neos’s network rationalisation of services and ability to access a competitive supply chain.

To aid Oxfordshire’s connectivity ambitions and mark the successful roll-out of infrastructure so far, Neos Networks has also provided £20,000 to an initiative purchasing new IT equipment for the council’s public libraries. The IT equipment can be used by staff and residents, enabling the connected hubs to become key pillars of community activity.

“Partnering with Neos has been instrumental in our journey towards a smarter Oxfordshire,” said Craig Bower, digital infrastructure consultant at the council. “By leveraging their high-capacity fibre solutions and expertise as a network aggregator, we’ve streamlined our networks and paved the way for a plethora of smart use cases we’re currently exploring. This was by no means your typical supplier-buyer relationship, and we’ve developed a deep and consultative working relationship with Neos throughout the process.”

Neos Networks chief revenue officer David Bruce added: “We’re delighted to see Oxford’s GigaHubs project start to bear fruit and that residents, businesses and tourists across the county can now access fast, reliable connectivity across so many of the most important spheres of public life.

“Oxfordshire’s clarity of vision and commitment to enhancing connectivity for both the unconnected and industry alike should be a model for other local authorities up and down the country to follow.”