Two rural Devon and Somerset communities become the first to benefit from £94 million high speed fibre broadband partnership

Two small rural communities have become the first to benefit from the £94 million Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership, three months ahead of schedule, it was announced today. 

The first homes and businesses in Sticklepath (Devon) and Bradford on Tone (Somerset) can now take advantage of the many benefits high speed fibre broadband affords. 

The roll-out continues in these areas and when completed up to 700 premises in Sticklepath and up to 500 in Bradford on Tone will be able to access the technology. 

Moretonhampstead, Holsworthy, Bishops Lydeard, Creech St Michael and Monkton Heathfield (near Taunton) remain on track for the technology to start to become available before the end of the year. 

By early 2014 this first phase of the programme will have made high-speed internet technology available to at least 15,000 homes and businesses. 

Faster speeds will make it easier for businesses to use features such as high quality video-conferencing and cloud computing services. At home, fibre broadband enables a family to download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the internet and play games online all at the same time. A whole album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes. 

Connecting Devon and Somerset signed the delivery contract with private sector partner, BT, in January this year and since then engineers have been busy conducting vital surveying work to ensure that the deployment plan for roll out is as cost effective and efficient as possible. 

The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme will lead to the delivery of high-speed fibre broadband to around 90 per cent1 of premises by the end of 2016. It also plans to ensure a minimum of 2Mbps for all premises within the programme and is actively seeking more funding to further extend the availability of superfast broadband across the whole area. 

Connecting Devon and Somerset is the largest programme of its kind in England. It builds on BT’s commercial rollout of fibre broadband, which has already made the technology available to around 196,000 premises in Somerset and about 211,000 in Devon.
As well as the seven towns and villages, the first phase of the programme will also include extending fibre broadband in Taunton and Bridgwater, parts of which are already benefiting from BT’s commercial fibre broadband roll-out. 

Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council said: “To have the first cabinets ready to go ahead of schedule is great news. The most exciting phase of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme is now underway and the process of transforming our businesses has begun. Not only is access to high speed fibre broadband a game changer for business, enabling them to compete on an equal footing, but it can help break down the digital divide in our communities.” 

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “Today’s announcement means that the roll out of high speed fibre broadband across Devon and Somerset marks the beginning of a real transformation for business across the two counties. Our rural businesses can start to overcome some of the barriers to growth they have faced now that they can take advantage of the increased opportunities that high speed broadband will bring. As an area we can now become more competitive, attracting inward investment, creating new jobs and supporting economic growth. 

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT Group, said: “This is excellent news and a key milestone for the programme. We are at the beginning of a journey that will see the communications landscape completely transformed. 

“This ambitious project will boost the productivity of local businesses and help to attract a more diverse range of high-growth companies to the area. It will play a major role in creating greater prosperity for Devon and Somerset.” 

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 9.2Mbps and in Somerset 8Mbps. 

• 1 This percentage includes the private sector’s commercial plans for the roll-out of fibre broadband. 

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 now a £94 million project. 

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

About Superfast Britain 
Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn 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 comprises three linked programmes: 

• £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