Connecting Devon and Somerset delivers superfast broadband to a quarter of a million homes and businesses

More than a quarter of a million households and businesses can now benefit from superfast broadband as a result of the multi-million-pound Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme. The key milestone was achieved as engineering teams continued on schedule with the huge job of laying thousands of miles of optical fibre cable and installing hundreds of roadside fibre broadband cabinets.

More than a quarter of a million households and businesses can now benefit from superfast broadband as a result of the multi-million-pound Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme.

The key milestone was achieved as engineering teams continued on schedule with the huge job of laying thousands of miles of optical fibre cable and installing hundreds of roadside fibre broadband cabinets.

So far, the CDS programme has made fibre broadband available to 308,000 Devon and Somerset premises, of which more than 250,000 can get superfast speeds of 24 Mbps and above – and the number is continuing to increase rapidly. More than 1,300 fibre broadband cabinets are now providing high-speed broadband for local homes and businesses.

Leading Devon and Somerset councillors, representatives of CDS and BT and North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones celebrated the achievement of the key milestone at the South Molton premises of well-known South West business, Mole Valley Farmers. The company emphasised the importance of good connectivity for rural communities and praised the “dramatic improvement” in broadband speeds recently experienced by farmers. More than 2,600 households and businesses in South Molton now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the CDS fibre broadband rollout.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Our rollout of superfast broadband has now reached an extra 250,000 homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset, which is great news for residents and visitors alike. Every week we are reaching thousands more. Nine out of ten UK properties can now get superfast speeds, and 95 per cent of the UK will be able to get superfast speeds by the end of next year."

Peter Heaton-Jones, MP for North Devon, said: “The introduction of superfast broadband to a quarter of a million premises will prepare our communities for the future. North Devon, much like other areas in Devon and Somerset are fortunate to receive investment in our broadband infrastructure from the CDS partnership.

“Reaching 250k connected to superfast broadband is a momentous occasion and it’s a pleasure to be here today, celebrating with members of my local community. Whilst the rollout is progressing very well, there are still some residents and businesses who cannot access superfast broadband in North Devon. I will keep working with CDS, the government and our partners to ensure the service is provided to as many of these premises as soon as possible.”

Julie Edwards, head of agricultural affairs and corporate communications at Mole Valley Farmers said: “We have a strong relationship with the farmers in the South West, not just as a retailer but also we engage with the farming community at our workshops and events.

“Our customers tell us that their connectivity has dramatically improved by stepping from a more or less unusable connection to 30Mbps. Farmers increasingly depend on high-levels of connectivity, from communicating with their suppliers, to ensuring farm access to wider markets, sales channels and opportunities to grow their businesses; A reliable connection is paramount.

“Ensuring access to same opportunities as everyone else in rural communities is critical, if we are to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world. It’s about rural digital inclusion and it’s great to see CDS championing the cause.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the engineers for their hard work in overcoming the challenges of connecting rural areas. Now, even more communities can access twenty first century technology.

“Similar progress is already being made across the two national parks, and we look forward to hitting even higher benchmarks in the future. Whilst there is still work to be done, the next phase will increase coverage further, building on the momentum already established under Phase One.”

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for business inward investment and policy, said: “This milestone not only marks the achievement of the CDS partnership in delivering superfast broadband, but it delivers new opportunities to doorsteps across the two counties.

“As a result of this improved technology, businesses can enjoy faster upload and download speeds, freeing up more time and making us more productive than ever before. This will bring long-term economic benefits to the area that will be felt for many generations to come.”

Paul Coles, BT South West regional manager, said: “The achievement of this latest milestone shows the continuing success of the Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership, the largest programme of its kind in England. There has been further huge progress during 2016 as we bring fibre broadband to some of the most challenging locations in England.

“Only a few months ago at the beginning of 2016, we were celebrating the 1,000th fibre broadband cabinet and the fact that CDS had made superfast broadband available to more than 221,000 premises in Devon and Somerset. Now we have more than 1,300 operational cabinets and the superfast broadband figure has reached over 250,000.

“And even that is not the full story for the two counties. If you include BT’s own commercial roll-out programme, it means that more than 830,000 households and businesses across Devon and Somerset can now get fibre.”

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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 Programme 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 it took initial investment up to £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 was matched locally, which means the programme will benefit from an additional £45 million plus to invest in bringing superfast broadband to the area.

Most of the CDS programme will be Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology, which 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.

In addition to the CDS programme, the private sector has rolled out fibre broadband to many communities across the region, mainly in urban areas. CDS is ultimately looking at providing 100 per cent faster broadband coverage across Devon and Somerset.

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

Mole Valley Farmers

For all press enquiries please contact Julie Edwards, Head of Agricultural Affairs and Corporate Communications on 01769 573431 or julie.edwards@molevalleyfarmers.com

Mole Valley Farmers: Mole Valley Farmers was started in 1960 by a small group of farmers in South Molton, North Devon. Today, there are over 8,000 farmer shareholders and 20,000 country members. It is a significant employer particularly in South West England, with a turnover in excess of £422 million.

Mole Valley Farmers trades as a cooperative, it has strong values in respect of the farming community and derives a meaningful income from rural retailing. Over the years the company has grown and developed its businesses and now consists of:

  1. 10 Mole Valley Farmers retail locations in the South West
  1. Mole Valley Forage Services
  1. Mole Energy
  1. MoleCare Veterinary Services
  1. Mole Valley Farmers Online
  1. Mole Valley Feed Solutions which includes –
    1. 6 Ruminant feed mills
    1. A network of feed blending facilities
    1. A mineral and supplement plant
  1. 38 Mole Country Stores
  1. Farm buildings and fabrication
  1. Bridgman’s agricultural supplies
  1. Cox & Robinson agricultural supplies