Demand for superfast broadband soars to new heights in rural Devon and Somerset
About 56,000 households and businesses are now using the new high-speed fibre broadband network being delivered by the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) partnership. This represents a take-up rate of 21.7 per cent - and in some rural areas it is as high as 40 per cent or more.
Among the communities where take up is particularly strong are Petrockstowe in North Devon, where about two thirds of villagers are now using fibre broadband, and West Monkton, in Somerset, where more than half have signed up. They are enjoying speeds of up to 80Mbps
Petrockstowe resident David Lowe said: “We moved to this lovely village in 2007 from a large town in East Buckinghamshire, where 2Mbps broadband speed had recently been implemented across the board by our internet service provider. Here, we were able to get a 1Mbps line speed, which was apparently one of the fastest in the Village!
“Good connectivity is essential. Working from home and with the mobile signals being weak, superfast internet access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
“After suffering for years with a slow service, it was uplifting to see Openreach (BT’s local network business) installing the fibre cabinets which our village had long campaigned for. We are now receiving 80Mbps line speed which is fantastic and our home broadband speed is now 40 times greater than parts of the major town near London where my company HQ is located. We truly are in the 21st century now.”
Barry Gage, West Monkton Councillor, said: “I’ve taken the opportunity to get superfast broadband and I’m delighted with it. My download speed is now 18.6Mbps while the upload speed has gone from 0.7Mbps to 5.5Mbps -it’s given me an extra hour every day, simply because of the speed with which I can get everything done online now. It really does make a huge difference.”
Over the last six months, take up of superfast broadband has increased by 3.5 per cent across the CDS programme area. About 56,000 households and businesses are now connected to the superfast network, representing a take-up rate of 21.7 per cent in the Connecting Devon and Somerset intervention area.
The CDS programme, which commenced in 2013, is now 80 per cent complete, with around 1,200 cabinets live and more than 221,000 homes and businesses capable of connecting to superfast speeds - a number which is growing rapidly.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, said: “Take up in the villages of Petrockstowe and West Monkton is testimony to all the hard work of the CDS partnership.”
Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for business inward investment and policy, added: “A major focus and challenge for the CDS team has been to deliver superfast broadband in remote and technically difficult to reach rural areas. It’s great to see more and more people living and working in these areas now benefitting from high-speed fibre optic broadband and the vastly enhanced internet speeds and connectivity that it brings.”
Paul Coles, South West regional manager for BT, which is investing £41 million in the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, said: “Petrockstowe and West Monkton are great examples of local communities, which have really embraced the great benefits of high-speed fibre broadband. This exciting technology is transforming the lives of local people, providing a vital boost for communities across the South West. The Connecting Devon and Somerset rollout is continuing at a rapid pace reaching thousands more homes and businesses every month.”
Local people have also been benefitting from CDS’s Get up to Speed programme which provides a range of drop in sessions to enable communities to get the most out of superfast connectivity.
Kate Doodson, executive director at Cosmic Peninsula, which delivers the Get up to Speed programme, said: “We’ve been providing sessions such as ‘Get Connected with Tablets’ to improve local people’s knowledge of superfast broadband and give them the confidence to make the switch. These have been extremely well attended and the feedback has been very positive.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
About Connecting Devon and Somerset
Councils across Devon and Somerset are working together to bring faster broadband to 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 government and public sector contribution close to £53 million. With the £41 million additional investment from BT 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 households and premises. 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, infrastructure is also being put in place across the region, mainly in urban areas, as part of a separate commercial programme, funded by the private sector. CDS is ultimately looking at providing 100% faster broadband coverage across the region.
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 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