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Secretary of State hails progress of Devon and Somerset superfast broadband programme

Press release   •   Mar 05, 2014 00:00 GMT

Culture Secretary Maria Miller today hailed the progress of the multi million pound Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) broadband programme during a fact-finding visit to Devon. 

She took time out from a busy schedule to go to Greycoat Lane, Newton Abbot, to see the programme’s latest superfast broadband roadside cabinet being installed. 

Since it was launched last year, CDS has already installed 79 broadband cabinets across the two counties and made the high-speed technology available to more than 18,000 homes and businesses*. By the end of July, the project will have reached 70,000 premises. 

Last week, the Government revealed that an additional £22.75 million will be allocated to the CDS programme in order to help the project reach some of the region’s most challenging locations. It was the largest sum allocated to any broadband partnership in the UK in the latest round of funding. 

Maria Miller said: “Superfast Broadband will benefit residents and businesses in Devon and Somerset - whether they need it for work, to do homework or simply to download music or films. Thousands of local homes and businesses already have access as a result of the Government’s roll-out and it is helping people with their everyday tasks. We want to make sure that Britain is one of the best countries in the world for broadband, and the extra £250 million we are investing will help ensure remote areas are not left behind in the digital slow lane.” 

Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris said: “Ensuring Teignbridge is well connected with superfast broadband is crucial for our local businesses to flourish. A fast internet connection can often be the difference between staying in and going out of business. I have been lobbying for better connectivity in our area since I was elected in 2010 and I’m delighted we’ve taken another step on the way to 90 per cent of Devon and Somerset being connected with superfast broadband.” 

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “This is an exciting time for Connecting Devon and Somerset as the programme gathers momentum and more and more companies and communities are connected every week. High speed broadband is an important part of our economic resilience and this programme is transforming the way our businesses and communities work. The visit of the Secretary of State today is recognition of our progress and our commitment to bringing the benefits of high speed fibre broadband to our residents and businesses across both counties. This will be a great opportunity to discuss the programme overall and the recent Government announcement of an additional £22.75 million funding, in particular how this will be allocated and the requirements for match funding.” 

Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “Our recent extreme weather has demonstrated that our need for a robust critical infrastructure is essential for our communities and our economy. The progress made already by Connecting Devon and Somerset is a major step forward in strengthening the resilience of our rural communities and the additional funding recently announced for the programme has the potential to extend its impact even further, albeit that there is a requirement for match funding. The Secretary of State is seeing first hand today how this programme is opening up exciting opportunities for our communities and businesses.” 

Paul Coles, South West regional manager for BT, said: “Having undertaken a great deal of careful planning and preparatory work, Connecting Devon and Somerset is now able to forge ahead quickly with its plans to roll-out this exciting technology to hard-to-reach rural locations. High-speed fibre broadband will make a major contribution to the future success and prosperity of Devon and Somerset’s households and businesses.” 

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. 

The latest information on the roll-out programme is available on the CDS website at www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk. It is expected that the superfast broadband cabinet in Greycoat Lane, Newton Abbot, will ‘go live’ next month. 

Ends 

Notes to Editors 

*About 500,000 homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset now have access to high-speed fibre optic broadband through the work of CDS and the private sector’s commercial roll-out of the technology. 

• 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. 

Prior to the Government announcement last week, the project had secured £32 million of funding from the government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and both Somerset and Devon County Councils had committed up to £10 million each and BT £41 million. Bath and North East Somerset Council had also provided funding. 

For more information, visit www.connectingdevonandsomerset.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: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk