Connecting Devon and Somerset hits 200,000 fibre broadband milestone

CONNECTING DEVON AND SOMERSET HITS 200,000 FIBRE BROADBAND MILESTONE

More than 200,000 businesses and households now have access to faster, more reliable broadband due to Connecting Devon and Somerset programme

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) today announced that it had achieved a major milestone in its rollout of high-speed fibre broadband. More than 200,000 households and businesses across the two counties now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the multi million pound programme.

The rollout is continuing at a rapid pace with fibre broadband becoming available to more than 10,000 further premises every month.

The high-speed technology has been rolled out for the first time to many new exchange areas in Devon and Somerset over the past three months, including some of the most challenging locations in the country. The partnership has already installed more than 900 fibre broadband cabinets and laid many thousands of kilometres of fibre optic lines.

The latest information on the rollout is available at connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk

The partnership is on schedule to make fibre broadband available to around 320,000 Devon and Somerset premises by the end of next year. It is expected that within less than 16 months around 90 per cent of households and businesses in the two counties will be able to get superfast speeds of 24Mbps and above as a result of the CDS rollout and the private sector’s commercial programmes.

Local business Surfed Out, in Braunton, Devon, was one of the first in its area to recognise the benefits and potential of superfast broadband. Glenn Harris, manager at Surfed Out, said: “Being able to connect to superfast broadband has already had a dramatic impact on our business. We have a really enthusiastic and driven team, and now at last our IT capabilities can keep up with the pace they work at!

“It’s great to have the confidence that we will be able to fulfil in-store and online transactions without any glitches. And of course it means we can play a bigger role in surfing retail nationally, and even internationally, as our website can be more responsive. It’s great news all round.”

In Somerset, one company quick to sign up to the new technology is Somerdale International Ltd, a leading supplier of cheese, which now exports to over 50 countries around the World, based in Wellington.

John Beardon, IT and communications manager at Somerdale International, said: “Everything is so much smoother and faster now; superfast broadband has transformed the range and quality of services we can offer. We supported the Connecting Devon and Somerset campaign for better broadband because it is essential for businesses in rural areas like ours.”

James Heappey, MP for Wells, said: “Having campaigned to improve access to broadband in rural areas and bridge the digital divide, I am absolutely delighted for the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme to have reached more than 200,000 homes and businesses across the programme so far – with that figure set to grow even further by the end of 2016. Superfast connectivity is absolutely essential to residents and businesses alike and I will continue to work with BT and the Connecting Devon and Somerset project team to get our area the connections we so desperately need.”

Peter Heaton-Jones, MP for North Devon, commented: “The arrival of superfast broadband will be a game-changer for the large number of rural communities we have here in North Devon. The issue of broadband access touches virtually all aspects of rural life. Slower broadband affects the ability of rural economies to grow and be resilient and impacts on the services and quality of life rural people have access to.

“As the economy recovers it is vital that resources, particularly technology, are distributed more fairly amongst enterprise in the UK so that businesses in more rural areas are able to expand their operations.”

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member Business Inward Investment and Policy for Somerset County Council explains “It’s great to see CDS is continuing its efforts, and has reached 200,000 homes and businesses. Bringing superfast broadband to rural areas is a challenge. Working in partnership With BT we have demonstrated that challenges can be overcome and the benefits of the latest broadband technology can be felt in some of our more remote communities.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “The rollout is continuing at a rapid pace with fibre broadband becoming available to more than 10,000 further premises every month. This project is making a huge difference to people’s lives – the take-up rate in the areas that have gone live this year underlines just how just how keen businesses and members of the public are to get connected, and what a difference it can make.”

Paul Coles, South West regional manager for BT, who lives near Bideford, added: “This latest milestone demonstrates the great success of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, which is very much on track to achieve its targets. Our engineers are working hard to make this exciting technology very widely available across the whole region and we’re delighted to see it so well-received by local communities in Devon and Somerset. Within the next two weeks we expect the programme to have reached almost 220,000 premises. Superfast broadband will make a major contribution to the future success and prosperity of the South West. Businesses can use it to boost their competitiveness, whilst households can benefit from enhanced online learning and entertainment. Whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband.”

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