High-speed broadband in Axbridge delivers boost for tourism

More than 10,500 homes and businesses across the exchange areas of Axbridge, Cheddar, Street and Wells can now access superfast speeds of more than 24mbps, thanks to the Connecting Devon and Somerset Broadband (CDS) programme. The huge broadband boost for these towns is helping to create jobs, boost the economy and create local growth.

An event was held at The Parsonage B&B, one of the first Axbridge businesses to sign up for superfast broadband, to celebrate the roll-out of the high-speed technology in the town. It was attended by James Heappey, MP for Wells; Jennifer Trotman, Mayor of Axbridge; Maggie Stanley, chair of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce; and representatives of Connecting Devon and Somerset and BT.

Patricia Filer, the owner and manager of The Parsonage B&B, said: “In the past some of my guests would say that the broadband was a bit slow if they were using it after 6pm, they would have to go away and try later.  Since taking out the new superfast broadband, we now offer free wi-fi to our guests because we understand that it is an important element to their stay and our guests couldn’t be happier with the new speeds.”

Wells MP James Heappey, who has been campaigning for superfast broadband to be made more widely available in the area, commented: “Last year, the tourism industry was worth £1.3 billion in the UK and I believe that there is so much more potential for growth in Somerset’s tourism industry, but to harness this we need to ensure that our offering is competitive.

“High-speed internet connections bring a huge boost to these towns and it was a pleasure to help announce the arrival of more fibre broadband locally. With the provision of superfast broadband not only can businesses provide better service for tourists, but tourists can continue to reap the benefits of an urban lifestyle when they’re leaving the city.”

Axbridge Mayor, Jennifer Trotman, said “This will give the people of Axbridge the opportunity to really make the most of the internet. It will also have a huge benefit for tourists being able to see what the town has to offer and keep in touch with friends and family while they’re visiting.”

Maggie Stanley, the chair of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce, said “The small, independent local trader has historically been at such a disadvantage to those with multiple locations and bigger budgets. But now those who can use digital platforms and social media intelligently are able to level the playing field and punch above their weight. Superfast broadband will enable Axbridge businesses to compete at a higher level and ultimately, create more jobs.”

The CDS programme, which commenced in 2013, is now around 80 per cent complete; with 1,300 cabinets live and more than 290,000premises capable of connecting to high-speed fibre broadband, 250,000 of which can connect to superfast speeds of more than 24mbps – a number which is growing rapidly.

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for business inward investment and policy, said: “The roll out of superfast broadband to a further more than 10,500 premises in these exchange areas will help many homes and businesses bridge the digital divide. Phase 1 of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme is progressing extremely well with 80 per cent coverage already delivered. It’s achieving real benefits for our communities and businesses.”

Paul Coles, BT South West Regional Manager, added:  “Every week our engineers are rolling out high-speed fibre broadband to more communities in challenging locations. This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses. If you are a businessperson, you can use it to find new customers and work more efficiently. If you are a local resident, you can use fibre broadband for a wide range of activities from entertainment and shopping to online learning and staying in touch with friends and relatives.”

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