Access to high-speed broadband and reliable mobile coverage is essential in the modern world. The pandemic only emphasised how much we have all come to rely on the internet to communicate and carry out an increasing number of day-to-day tasks. At the same time however, the more that our lives become focused online, the more we realise where there are gaps in current digital connectivity.
While Banbury and Bicester broadly benefit from strong broadband and reliable mobile coverage, there are many in surrounding villages who have been left behind by the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband and are frustrated by mobile not-spots.
Constituents regularly get in touch with me to share their concerns, which is why I decided to launch my Digital Connectivity Survey. I received hundreds of responses, which have helped me to build a really comprehensive picture of coverage across our area.
In particular, the results highlighted a number of mobile not-spots which still persist in North Oxfordshire. After seeing this, I had a meeting with EE, in which I was pleased to learn that they are committed to playing their part in tackling these through the Shared Rural Network. This agreement between mobile network operators and the Government aims to increase 4G mobile coverage by sharing both existing and new masts. It is hoped that this will increase 4G coverage throughout the UK to 95 per cent by the end of 2025. The launch of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy in April reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to achieving this.
The results of my survey also demonstrated that there is significant demand for full fibre broadband across North Oxfordshire. Our area has the lowest rate of gigabit-capable broadband coverage in Oxfordshire and one of the lowest in the South East, with coverage 20 percent below the national average. Through Project Gigabit, the Government aims to deliver gigabit broadband to at least 85% of homes by 2025 and over 99% by 2030. Backed-up by £5 billion worth of investment, each month more contracts are being launched to connect homes which the market would not otherwise reach. In a meeting with the BT Group, I was reassured that Openreach are working at pace to rollout full fibre coverage across our area. This is not to mention a number of other providers who are also offering services in North Oxfordshire.
While great progress is being made to upgrade our network, we must ensure that the Government’s ambitious targets are met locally. One of the Prime Minister’s five priorities is to grow the economy. To do this, it is vital that we deliver digital infrastructure that ensures everyone, including in rural areas, has access to good quality mobile and broadband coverage. Mobile and network providers have an enormous responsibility in this rollout. I have further meetings planned with these providers and will continue to work with them closely to ensure they understand the challenges we face in North Oxfordshire.
It is important to note that there are several steps constituents can take to ensure they are optimising their broadband and mobile services. Using the directory below, you can:
- Check if your devices are compatible with the latest technology.
- Check if you are currently using the provider with the best service in your area.
- Check if you are eligible for any Government funded upgrade schemes.
Check your broadband and mobile coverage:
Ofcom advice for consumers:
Choosing the best mobile, broadband and landline provider:
Your Right to a Decent Broadband Service (Universal Service):
Complain about Phone or Internet Services:
Are you Eligible for a Gigabit Voucher Scheme?
Openreach – Express your interest in Ultrafast Full Fibre:
See what infrastructure is available at your address using Openreach's fibre checker: