South West fibre broadband coverage passes the 2 million mark

The head of BT’s superfast fibre broadband programme in the UK, Bill Murphy, today highlighted the “rapid progress” being made in the South West* as the region’s fibre broadband coverage passed the two million premises mark.

South West fibre broadband coverage passes the two million mark

BT chief highlights the rapid progress during a visit to a new

fibre broadband cabinet in Somerset

The head of BT’s superfast fibre broadband programme in the UK today highlighted the “rapid progress” being made in the South West* as the region’s fibre broadband coverage passed the two million mark.

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said during a visit to North Somerset that more than two million South West households and businesses now had access to fibre broadband and that this number was growing by about 6,000 premises every week. Fibre broadband is already available to more than a third of a million Somerset premises – an increase of more than 75,000 since January this year.

“The rollout of fibre broadband in the South West represents a considerable success story and a major investment of many hundreds of millions of pounds from BT and our public sector partners, such as Connecting Devon and Somerset,” he said. “Rapid progress is being made. Already, more than 400,000 households and businesses in the region have chosen to take advantage of the great opportunities offered by this exciting technology.

“A tremendous amount has already been achieved, but much remains to be done. The engineering challenge is huge, particularly in some of the more remote rural areas of the region. It involves the installation of hundreds of thousands of kilometres of optical fibre and thousands of fibre broadband cabinets. But we are committed to rolling out faster broadband as widely and quickly as possible.”

He made his comments when visiting one of the latest fibre broadband cabinets to be installed as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme. The new cab, part of the Pill exchange area in North Somerset, has made fibre broadband available to more than 250 premises at Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh, and the surrounding area.

More than 74,000 households and businesses in North Somerset now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership and BT’s own commercial programme. A full list of North Somerset exchanges, which now have fibre broadband, is available in the Notes to Editors.

Among those also attending the event were representatives of the Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership and Business West, an organisation based at Leigh Court, which provides advice and support for many thousands of businesses in the area.

Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: "Business West's 18,000 members face many challenges in running their businesses, including finding skilled staff and accessing affordable finance. However, one of the most important issues on which we fight on their behalf is for improvements in the local communications infrastructure that allows them to get their supplies in, their services and goods out and allows their staff to get on with their business. Road, rail, air and sea transport are all vital cogs in this technologically-led era. However, a world class digital communication infrastructure is vital if the South West is to continue its prosperous trajectory. Business West wholeheartedly welcomes the investment in this new capability.”

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for business inward investment and policy, said: “Despite engineering challenges, CDS has continued to prioritise the successful delivery of superfast broadband in Devon and Somerset. The commitment to install superfast broadband in rural areas has achieved great results so far and the two million milestone is testament to that. With 74,000 residents and business owners already benefiting from this advancement in North Somerset, I look forward to seeing the positive results that the programme will bring to the region.”

The CDS partnership is on schedule to make fibre broadband available to around 320,000 Devon and Somerset premises by the end of next year. When the private sector’s commercial rollout of the technology is also included, it means that within less than 18 months around 90 per cent of households and businesses in the two counties will be able to get superfast speeds of 24Mbps and above.

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

High-speed fibre broadband is now available in the following North Somerset exchange areas:

Banwell, Bleadon, Churchill, Clevedon, Nailsea, Pill, Portishead, Weston-Super-Mare, Winscombe, Worle, Wrington and Yatton

*The South West is defined as Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Bristol.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 is investing £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 has been matched locally, which means the programme has over £45 million further to invest in bringing superfast broadband to the area.

    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