OXFORDSHIRE County Council has announced that small businesses in rural areas are going to be given a broadband boost.

Two new contracts have been signed to deliver ultrafast broadband to 970 SMEs.

This follows a successful application to DeFRA for £6.3m of rural development funding to improve broadband for businesses in rural parts of the county.

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Craig Bower, ICT project manager for Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This is a great boost for Oxfordshire’s rural SMEs.

“All the businesses in scope currently have slow broadband when they increasingly need fast access to online resources to improve productivity and be competitive.

“Our existing Better Broadband programme has delivered superfast access to over 77,000 premises and we know it is making a huge difference to residents and business with over two thirds of those able to connect subscribing to the superfast services.”

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The suppliers will also connect approximately 900 nearby homes at their own cost.

These are all to be full-fibre connections offering speeds up to 1Gb per second and will bring superfast coverage in Oxfordshire to 98 per cent.

The work will add several hundred kilometres of fibre to the most rural parts of the county and is planned to complete by June 2022.