Connecting Devon and Somerset achieves major ‘100,000 premises’ milestone

Wells, Yatton and Croyde among latest communities to benefit from multi million pound rollout programme 

Connecting Devon and Somerset today announced it has achieved a major milestone in its rollout of superfast fibre broadband.

More than 100,000 homes and businesses in the two counties now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the partnership, with nearly 90 per cent of those premises being able to connect to superfast speeds of 24Mbps or above. The news comes as the Government today announced that the nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now reached more than two million homes and businesses1.

Around 12,500 orders have already been placed since the beginning of this year and demand continues to grow as more and more local people opt for the sophisticated fibre technology, which can see their speeds increase to up to 80Mbps2. Orders can be placed with any company offering fibre products on the BT network. This network is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies offering broadband services.

In Devon one company quick to sign up to the new technology is Blackdown Environmental.

Sophia Priddle, director, said: “Superfast broadband is quite new to us and we are still discovering ways to make it work for our business. Our favourite benefit so far is being able to Skype meetings with one of our clients. That would never have been possible before.”

Engineers have installed more than 78,000 km of underground optical fibres connecting 456 new fibre broadband street cabinets which are now ‘live’. A further 224 fibre cabinets have also been installed and are just waiting for final works to be completed.

The latest locations where new cabinets have gone ‘live’ since the beginning of the New Year include Wells, Yatton, Winscombe, Wrington, Minehead, Chard, Crewkerne, Stoke Canon, Holsworthy, Chudleigh, Christow, Croyde West Monkton, Bratton Clovelly, West Coker, Churchill and Hartland.

The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme is building on the work of the private sector to make superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above available to around 90 per cent of homes and businesses across the two counties by the end of 2016.

The latest announcement comes as the Government announced today that public and private sector broadband partnerships across the UK had made superfast broadband available to 2 million households and businesses.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said: "Devon and Somerset's digital landscape is undergoing a remarkable transformation as our rollout of superfast broadband continues at pace. I'm delighted to hear that this project has now reached more than 100,000 local homes and businesses, providing a huge boost to the local economy of both counties, and is firmly on track to reach 90% coverage by 2016."

Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, added: “Reaching this many people with fibre is wonderful news for Devon and Somerset. It puts us on track to reach our 90 per cent superfast goal by the end of 2016 and with the further funding announced recently, Connecting Devon and Somerset are well on track to reach our goal of 100 per cent superfast broadband by 2020.

“With the announcement today that two million people nationwide are now able to connect to fibre broadband as a result of the Government’s broadband programme, we can clearly see the UK moving ahead of many of our European neighbours.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: "Everyone in Devon and Somerset recognises the importance of superfast broadband, and with confirmation we have now connected over 100,000 homes to broadband we will really start to see the difference. As well as people at home being much better connected, businesses who are now benefiting because of our programme are seeing increased revenues and higher productivity, which all contributes hugely to the local economy.

"There's clearly still a lot to do as we work to connect everyone in Devon and Somerset. However, we are working as quickly as we can and milestones like this show how much progress is being made."

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “Today sees another important milestone in the rollout of fibre broadband in Devon and Somerset and across the UK. The Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership has made major progress since it was launched in 2013. It means that more than 610,000 households and businesses across the two counties now have access to high-speed fibre broadband as a result of this successful partnership and BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme.

“Together, we and our public sector partners are creating a lasting legacy, which will play a vital role in the future success and prosperity of our local communities and our nation. Already nearly 22 million UK households and businesses can benefit from the huge opportunities offered by fibre broadband with many more joining them every month.”

More information on Connecting Devon and Somerset can be found at the website:www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk.

- Ends -

1 The Government’s nationwide rollout of superfast broadband - internet speeds greater than 24Mbps – has now reached more than two million homes and businesses.

BT’s high-speed fibre broadband network now reaches almost 22 million premises. The network is open to all communications providers on an equal basis – with 140 communications providers now selling fibre broadband services.

2 These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

Notes to Editors

  • 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 project secured £32 million of funding from the government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and both Somerset and Devon County Councils committed up to £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, Connecting Devon and Somerset is a £94 million project.
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, is undertaking 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