Connecting Devon and Somerset will reach 70,000 homes and businesses by early Summer

More exchange areas across the two counties included in the roll-out plans 
Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) will have made high-speed fibre optic broadband available to 70,000 homes and businesses by the end of July, it was announced today. 

The latest exchange areas to benefit from the £94 million programme’s roll-out plans include Braunton, Sowton, Pinhoe, Topsham, Kingskerswell and Swimbridge in Devon and Spaxton and North Petherton in Somerset. 

Whilst some of these exchanges are located in urban areas, they can reach deeply into rural areas and cover many small villages. 

The new announcement comes on the first anniversary of the programme’s partnership with BT. 

CDS will also extend fibre broadband coverage in Ilminster and Newton Abbot, building on the technology already available through the private sector’s commercial roll-out. Much of the new CDS network is being built out from areas where fibre broadband is already available in order to ensure best value for money when rolling out the technology to as many rural locations as possible. 

The interactive map on the Connecting Devon and Somerset website at www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk has been changed to reflect the latest exchanges. The map will also be updated regularly to show the progress of the roll-out programme as cabinets ‘go live’. 

The new locations follow 19 exchange areas* where the partnership has already made fibre available and a further seven areas** which are due to ‘go live’ by the end of March – see Notes to Editors for further details of these locations. 

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 seeking more funding to further extend the availability of superfast broadband across the whole area. 

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to make this next announcement so soon into the New Year. It comes as a result of all the survey work, which has formed so much of the behind the scenes work undertaken last year. Businesses across Devon will now have the chance to grow and develop and compete on a more equal footing with their more urban competitors.” 

Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “We are delighted with the progress that has been made so far but clearly the severe flooding in Somerset is posing challenges for the engineering teams who are rolling out the new network. Connecting Devon and Somerset is working very effectively to deal with these and ensure the roll-out continues at a fast pace. For example, where the flooding is particularly serious we will switch some work to less severely affected areas until the waters subside. 

“We will do all we can to ensure that communities get access to superfast broadband as soon as possible. Already, thousands more Somerset homes and businesses are able to take advantage of the great opportunities offered by the new technology – and many more will be following in the months ahead.” 

Laurent Boon, BT’s programme manager for Connecting Devon and Somerset, said: “Despite the difficult weather, the partnership has achieved strong progress and is already bringing great benefits to rural communities. On the first anniversary since the partnership’s contract signing, we have made fibre broadband available to more than 16,000 premises and put in place clear plans to reach 70,000 by early Summer. This is a major boost for our households and businesses in rural areas.” 


* Exchange areas where fibre broadband is already available: Sticklepath, Bradford- On-Tone, West Monkton, Taunton, Exeter, Holsworthy, Bridgwater, Exminster, Okehampton, Bishops Lydeard, Henlade, North Curry, Wellington, Kennford, Crediton, Hatherleigh, Barnstaple, Hemyock and Newton St.Cyres. 

** Exchange areas set to get fibre broadband by the end of March 2014: Moretonhampstead, Christow, Blagdon Hill, North Tawton, Greenham, Milverton and Longdown. 

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 from BT’s local network division Openreach, to all broadband service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. According to regulator Ofcom, the average download speed in Devon is 11Mbps and 10.1 Mbps in Somerset. 

For more information please contact the following: 
• For enquiries to Connecting Devon and Somerset, contact Julie Everett at Coast Communications on 01752 847135 or email julie@coastmarcoms.co.uk 
• For BT enquiries, contact 0800 085 0660. All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre 

About Connecting Devon and Somerset 
Councils across Devon and Somerset are working together to bring faster broadband to the area and deliver improved broadband to 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 a £94 million project. 

For more information, visit www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk 

About BDUK 
Superfast Britain is a UK 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