Connecting Devon and Somerset hits 200,000 broadband milestone

More than 200,000 businesses and households are now able to connect to fibre broadband thanks to the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme - around 185,000 of these are achieving superfast speeds

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) today announced that it had achieved a major milestone in its rollout of high-speed fibre broadband.

More than 185,000 households and businesses can now access superfast broadband and in total more than 200,000 premises can access fibre broadband across the two counties thanks to the multi million pound programme.

The partnership is ahead of schedule in its plans to make fibre broadband available to around 90 per cent of households and businesses within the next 16 months.

The rollout is continuing at a rapid pace and currently superfast broadband is becoming available to more than 8,000 additional premises every month.

In the past three months the high-speed technology has been rolled out for the first time to many new exchange areas in Devon and Somerset, including some of the most challenging locations in the country. Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, have installed more than 900 fibre broadband cabinets and laid optical fibres many thousands of kilometres long.

The latest information on the rollout is available at www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.ukA list of latest exchange areas to benefit is also shown in the Notes to Editors of this news release. Among the most recent exchanges to go live are Cheriton Fitzpaine, Copplestone, Harbertonford, Sutton Cross, Buckland St. Mary, Charlton Mackrell, Edingworth, Mells and Templecombe.

Local business Surfed Out, in Braunton, Devon, was one of the first in its area to recognise the benefits and potential of superfast broadband.

Glenn Harris, manager at Surfed Out, said: “Being able to connect to superfast broadband has already had a dramatic impact on our business. We have a really enthusiastic and driven team, and now at last our IT capabilities can keep up with the pace they work at!

“It’s great to have the confidence that we will be able to fulfil in-store and online transactions without any glitches. And of course it means we can play a bigger role in surfing retail nationally, and even internationally, as our website can be more responsive. It’s great news all round.”

In Somerset, one company quick to sign up to the new technology is Somerdale International Ltd, a leading supplier of cheese based in Wellington, which now exports to more than 50 countries around the World.

John Beardon, IT and communications manager at Somerdale International, said: “Everything is so much smoother and faster now; superfast broadband has transformed the range and quality of services we can offer. We supported the Connecting Devon and Somerset campaign for better broadband because it is essential for businesses in rural areas like ours.”

James Heappey, MP for Wells, said: “Having campaigned to improve access to broadband in rural areas and bridge the digital divide, I am absolutely delighted for the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme to have reached more than 200,000 homes and businesses – and that figure is set to grow even further by the end of 2016. Superfast connectivity is absolutely essential to residents and businesses alike and I will continue to work with BT and the Connecting Devon and Somerset project team to get our area the connections we so desperately need.”

Peter Heaton-Jones, MP for North Devon, commented: “The arrival of superfast broadband will be a game-changer for the large number of rural communities we have here in North Devon. The issue of broadband access touches virtually all aspects of rural life. Slower broadband affects the ability of rural economies to grow and be resilient and impacts on the services and quality of life rural people have access to.

“As the economy recovers it is vital that resources, particularly technology, are distributed more fairly amongst enterprise in the UK so that businesses in more rural areas are able to expand their operations.”

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member Business Inward Investment and Policy for Somerset County Council explains “It’s great to see CDS is continuing its efforts, and has reached 200,000 homes and businesses. Bringing superfast broadband to rural areas is a challenge. Working in partnership with BT we have demonstrated that challenges can be overcome and the benefits of the latest broadband technology can be felt in some of our more remote communities.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “The rollout is continuing at a rapid pace and currently superfast broadband is becoming available to more than 8,000 further premises every month. 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 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, who lives near Bideford, added: “This latest milestone demonstrates the great success of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, which is very much on track to achieve its targets. Our engineers are working hard to make this exciting technology very widely available across the whole region and we’re delighted to see it so well-received by local communities in Devon and Somerset.

“Within the next two weeks we expect the programme to have reached almost 220,000 premises. Superfast broadband will make a major contribution to the future success and prosperity of the South West. Businesses can use it to boost their competitiveness, whilst households can benefit from enhanced online learning and entertainment. Whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband.”

Residents and businesses can keep up to date with the latest cabinets going live via Twitter @DCCSCCBroadband or via www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk


Notes to Editors

The latest exchange areas to ‘go live’ with superfast broadband are:

Devon – Cheriton Fitzpaine, Copplestone, Harbertonford, Sutton Cross

Somerset – Buckland St. Mary, Charlton Mackrell, Edingworth, Mells, Templecombe

Fibre broadband has also recently been further expanded in the following exchange areas:

Devon – Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton, Brixham, Buckfastleigh, Clovelly, Dawlish, Devonport, Hartland, Hatherleigh, Ivybridge, Kennford, Kingsbridge, Ottery St. Mary, Paignton, Pinhoe, Seaton, South Brent, South Molton, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Torrington, Totnes, Whimple, Yealmpton

Somerset – Bath Kingsmead, Blagdon Hill, Bleadon, Burnham on Sea, Burrowbridge, Chiselborough, Churchill, Clevedon, Crewkerne, Dunster, Henlade, Ilchester, Langport, Martock, Mells, North Curry, Pill, Saltford, Somerton, South Petherton, Street, Temple Cloud, Timsbury, West Coker, Weston Super Mare, Wincanton, Yatton, Yeovil.