Chard goes live with superfast broadband

Nearly 6,000 businesses and households in Chard now have access to faster, more reliable broadband 

Superfast broadband is taking off in Chard as the Somerset town becomes the latest community to benefit from the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, set up to deliver superfast fibre broadband. An event was held at local firm One Step Recruitment, in Holyrood Street, to celebrate the arrival of superfast broadband in the town, attended by Jenny Kenton, Mayor of Chard, and Garry Shortland, chair of the Chard Town Team, and representatives of Connecting Devon and Somerset and BT.

Currently, there are 24 fibre broadband cabinets ‘live’ within the Chard area, meaning that nearly 6,000 premises can connect for the first time to superfast broadband. Hundreds of homes and businesses in the Chard area are already using the service. Outlying villages such as Chaffcombe and Combe St Nicholas have also recently ‘gone live’ with the high-speed technology. Further areas of Somerset are scheduled to get access to the high-speed technology ’ later in the year. Residents can check the status of each postcode in the programme using the Where and When map on the CDS website at http://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/where-when/

The CDS programme is on target to make superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above available to around 90 percent of homes and businesses by the end of 2016. The project has already made fibre broadband available to more than 100,000 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset.

David Laws, Education Minister and Yeovil MP, said: “I’m delighted for everybody in Chard who now has the opportunity to access superfast broadband as a result of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme. The ability to access high quality communications infrastructure is both critical to businesses and an important part of improving quality of life, and the more people across Devon and Somerset who are connected, the better for everybody.”

Jenny Kenton, Mayor of Chard, said: “This will give the people of Chard the opportunity to really make the most of the internet. It will help people with online shopping, learning, entertainment and paying household bills, and allow small businesses to function more effectively.”

Garry Shortland, chair of the Chard Town Team, 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 Chard businesses to compete at a higher level and ultimately, create more jobs.”

One of the first companies to sign up is One Step Recruitment, which has an office in Holyrood Street, Chard, as well as one in Taunton. Branch manager Dan Shortland said: “Superfast broadband is a massive plus not only for businesses like ours, but for our clients and candidates. Being able to upload and download information quickly makes the whole process of helping people into the right jobs so much easier.”

There are six local authority partners in CDS: Devon and Somerset County Councils, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, along with delivery partner BT. What was originally a £94m programme that would enable around 90 per cent of homes and businesses to get access to superfast broadband by the end of 2016 has now been expanded, with a further £45m being committed so that 95 per cent can be reached by the end of 2017.

CDS has gathered significant momentum in recent months, with more than 460 cabinets now ‘live’ thanks to the programme. In addition, some 2,500 individuals and businesses have attended events as part of the Get up to Speed programme, designed to help people get the most out of faster broadband through training events, workshops and roadshows.

Cllr David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said: “CDS remains on target to make superfast broadband available to around 90 per cent of our homes and businesses by the end of 2016. 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, said: “The CDS programme is bringing huge superfast broadband benefits to people in areas previously not reached by this exciting technology. Businesses can use it to become more competitive and work more efficiently, whilst households can benefit from a wide range of online learning and entertainment opportunities. We look forward to bringing superfast broadband to more areas of Devon and Somerset in the months ahead.”


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact: Sofia Costa, JBP email: or 0117 907 6510
For BT enquiries contact the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre
• Most of the programme will be Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the telephone exchange to a fibre optic street cabinet.
• It can deliver download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. These are the top wholesale speeds available to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
• The new network is available on an open, wholesale basis to all broadband service providers. Households and businesses wishing to place an order or find out more about fibre broadband should contact their service provider.

About Connecting Devon and Somerset
Councils across Devon and Somerset are working together to bring faster broadband to the area and deliver improved broadband for rural Devon and Somerset – the “final third” – rural areas that are unlikely to benefit from commercial investment in broadband.
The Connecting Devon and Somerset project covers Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council, and North Somerset Council areas.
In 2011 the programme secured £32 million of funding from the government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and both Somerset and Devon County Councils put in £10 million each. Further funding from Bath and North East Somerset Council brought the public sector total close to £53 million. With the £41 million additional investment from BT the Programme is investing £94 million to improve broadband connectivity.
In 2014 BDUK announced a further £22.75m allocated to the CDS programme to support the extension of superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of premises nationally. This has been matched locally, which means the programme has over £45 million further to invest in bringing superfast broadband to the area.
For more information, visit www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk

About “Get up to Speed”
The ‘Get up to Speed’ service is delivered by the Cosmic Peninsula Consortium on behalf of Connecting Devon and Somerset. The newly established consortium, formed by Peninsula Enterprise and Cosmic IT, will undertake a series of workshops and events that will follow the infrastructure roll out as it moves across Devon and Somerset, helping businesses and individuals’ access information and develop the skills they need to get the most from the faster broadband speeds.
For more information please visit www.get-up-to-speed.co.uk

About Superfast Britain
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information, visit https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk