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Government minister Ed Vaizey urges businesses and communities to ‘get up to speed’ on benefits of superfast broadband as Connecting Devon and Somerset connects more communities

Press release   •   Apr 16, 2014 00:00 BST

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, will today announce a total of 31 communities* are now able to access superfast broadband through the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme. 

This includes an additional 12 communities that have just been upgraded - Bishop’s Hull, Combe Florey, Dunchideock, Nynehead, Okehampton Hamlets, Petrockstow, Ruishton, Sandford, Shillingford St George, South Tawton, Thurloxton and West Buckland. 

He will also urge businesses and residents across Devon and Somerset to improve their understanding of the benefits of faster broadband, as more local communities get connected to superfast broadband. 

During a visit to the region, Mr Vaizey attended a Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) ‘Get up to Speed’ workshop in Horton Manor, Ilminster. This is one of a series of workshops designed to help local businesses and communities improve their ICT skills and knowledge, as well as encourage the take up of the new faster broadband service as it rolls out across the counties. 

The Get up to Speed service will initially be rolled out across Wellington, Holsworthy and Okehampton. The service will provide information on how to benefit from faster broadband, seminars on digital technology, gadget shows and demonstrations. 

Businesses can get advice on everything from improving efficiency and getting better use out of improved speeds, to online marketing, new technologies, apps and software that will help them grow, develop and reach new markets. Communities can also benefit through gaining a better understanding of social media, accessing online public services as well as making the most of services such as iPlayer, live streaming, gaming and homeworking. 

Mr Vaizey also praised the rapid progress made by CDS as the next wave of communities to be connected as part of the £94million programme is confirmed. Since it was launched last year, CDS has already installed over 140 fibre broadband cabinets across the two counties. 


Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “I’m delighted to see that Connecting Devon and Somerset is making remarkable progress. Government is investing over £100m in broadband for the South West of England and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a welcome boost to the local economy. Business and community support programmes like Get up to Speed are tremendously important helping businesses to develop and enabling rural economies to grow.” 

Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “Supporting our broadband infrastructure investment with the CDS ‘Get up to Speed’ programme ensures that businesses and residents understand the possibilities that superfast broadband can bring to day to day activities. Around 90% of homes and businesses in the region will have access to superfast broadband speeds by the end of 2016, and we are making sure these residents know how to make the most of the opportunities this will bring.” 

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “Today’s announcement is yet another fantastic achievement for Connecting Devon and Somerset. Huge numbers of premises now have access to superfast broadband, and our rural communities are directly benefiting from this massive infrastructure investment. Better understanding of how to use superfast broadband will bring greater resilience into our economic activities as well as providing essential access to services, information and resources for residents and communities. .” 

Laurent Boon, the BT programme manager for CDS, said: “Superfast broadband is already providing a major boost for the local economy and the benefits will grow as more businesses and households take advantage of the major opportunities offered by this high-speed technology. The take-up of fibre broadband in Devon and Somerset is encouraging so far, but it is important that many more businesses and households join the superfast broadband revolution.” 

The multi million pound CDS partnership includes Devon and Somerset County Councils, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay Councils, BT and the UK Government’s Superfast Britain programme. 

Ends 

* Belstone, Bishop’s Hull, Bishop’s Lydeard, Bradford-on-Tone, Combe Florey, Cotford St Luke, Crediton, Creech St Michael, Dunchideock, Exminster, Hatherleigh, Hemyock, Holsworthy, Newton St Cyres, Nynehead, Okehampton, Okehampton Hamlets, Petrockstow, Ruishton, Sandford, Shillingford St George, South Tawton, Sticklepath, Stoke St Gregory, Thurloxton, Wellington, West Buckland, West Monkton, Kennford, Henlade and North Curry. 

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 to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. 
• According to regulator Ofcom, the average download speed in Devon was 11Mbps and in Somerset 10.1Mbps. 
• 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. 

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 “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