Connecting Devon and Somerset announces superfast broadband for 31 more communities

High-speed fibre broadband will be available to 44,000 Devon and Somerset homes and businesses within four months 

Connecting Devon and Somerset today takes a major step forward in the £94 million project to bring superfast broadband to rural areas by announcing the next communities set to benefit from the programme. 

By the end of March 2014, fibre broadband will be available to a further 31 communities*. This extends the number of homes and businesses that are able to benefit from the programme to 44,000. 

The boost comes as a result of the careful detailed survey work undertaken over the past six months that is critical in determining the roll-out plan. 

The 31 latest communities included in the roll-out join seven towns and villages already announced. Parts of Holsworthy, Bradford-on-Tone and Sticklepath have already ‘gone live’, whilst Moretonhampstead, Bishops Lydeard, Monkton Heathfield and Creech St Michael will be upgraded by the end of the month. 

Alongside the private sector’s commercial roll-out, the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme aims to make superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above available to around 90 per cent of homes and businesses by the end of 2016. 

It also plans to ensure a minimum of 2Mbps for all premises within the programme area and is actively lobbying for more funding to further extend the availability of superfast broadband. 

The programme has also published a new map on the Connecting Devon and Somerset website. This roll-out map, which will be added to as more locations come on stream, shows the final locations for this phase at a detailed postcode level. Residents and businesses will be able to see where this part of the roll-out will reach. 

The multi million pound partnership includes Devon and Somerset County Councils, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay Councils, BT and the UK Government’s Superfast Britain programme. 

Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “The Big Build now feels like it is truly underway. This tremendous step forward is a pay off for all the careful planning that goes on behind the scenes. The team has been working flat out to get to this stage. I look forward to the economic growth and development that access to high speed fibre broadband will bring.” 

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “We are all aware that good connectivity is vital for our rural economy. Our businesses can now begin to take advantage of the opportunities improved broadband will bring in new markets, trading potential and productivity. To be able to make this major step forward is terrific news.” 

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries added, “The news that 44,000 homes and businesses will have access to superfast speeds by March 2014 is fantastic news for the residents of Devon and Somerset. The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a welcome boost to the local economy.” 

Laurent Boon, BT’s programme manager for Connecting Devon and Somerset, said: “The arrival of fibre broadband is one of the most important investments in Devon and Somerset in recent times. High-speed fibre broadband is transforming the way we live and work. For businesses, it can help deliver a competitive edge, which will help them attract new customers and find new, more efficient ways of working. For households, it’s ideal for quick and efficient on-line shopping, entertainment, education, research and social networking.” 


Notes to Editors 
For further information please contact: Julie Everett at Coast Communications on 01752 847135 / 07866002635or email julie@coastmarcoms.co.uk 
For BT enquiries contact Jason Mann on 0800 085 0660. All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre 

*The 31 parish areas where superfast broadband will ‘go live’ by the end of March 2014 as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme are: 

Bishop's Hull, Bridford, Chilton Trinity, Christow, Combe Florey, Comeytrowe, Corfe, Cotford St. Luke, Crediton, Dunchideock, Exminster, Hatherleigh, Hemyock, Newton St. Cyres, North Tawton, Nynehead, Okehampton, Okehampton Hamlets, Petrockstow, Ruishton, Sampford Arundel, Sandford, Shillingford St. George, Shobrooke, South Tawton, Stoke St. Gregory, Thurloxton, Trull, Wembdon, West Buckland and West Monkton. 

Many premises within these parishes will have access to fibre broadband. Residents within these areas should check with their internet service provider to find out if the service is available to them. Please note: some of these areas already have some access to fibre broadband through BT’s commercial roll-out of the technology. 

Previously announced areas. 
Bishops Lydeard, Bradford-on-Tone, Creech St. Michael, Holsworthy, Monkton Heathfield, Moretonhampstead and Sticklepath. 

• 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. 
• According to regulator Ofcom, the average download speed in Devon was 11Mbps and in Somerset 10.1Mbps. 
• 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. 

The project has secured £32 million of funding from the government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and both Somerset and Devon County Councils will be putting in 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 now a £94 million project. 

For more information, visit www.connectingdevonandsomerset.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: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk 

About BT 
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach. 

For the year ended 31 March 2013, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m. 

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 

For more information, visit www.btplc.com