The extensive rollout of fibre broadband across Devon and Somerset is continuing to make good progress.
Broadband provider Airband is working in a number of areas across the region to deliver part of the fibre network being built on behalf of Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS).
The full fibre network has now gone live in many areas in and around Barnstaple, Bratton Fleming, Braunton, Croyde, and Goodleigh, with teams working on the final hard-to-reach properties.
Airband is also currently carrying out final tests and commissioning of new networks in other areas of north and west Devon. From next month (March) the network in areas of East Anstey, Great Torrington, Langtree, Meshaw, Mortehoe, South Molton and Weare Giffard is expected to be ready to serve customers.
It is anticipated that sections of the network will be completed and ready for testing by the end of March. This includes Ashley, Calverleigh, Frogwell, Hensleigh, Loxbeare, Lurley, Nomansland, Pennymoor, Puddington, Tiverton, and Withleigh, as well as the area from Exminster to Kenn and Kenton to Starcross, and communities in Berry Pomeroy, Bishopsteignton, and Luscombe.
Airband teams are also busy deploying fibre and splicing joints in Abbotsham, Bere Alston, Bideford, Clovelly, Crapstone, Fairy Cross, Gulworthy, Hartland, Instow, Milton Combe, Tavistock and Teignmouth.
Cabinets have been installed and powered up to the north of Taunton and work is on track to provide live connections by April in Adsborough, Bathpool, Monkton Heathfield, Priorswood, Staplegrove, Upper Cheddon, and West Monkton. In Devon, this is being carried out in Cheriton Bishop, Colebrook, Hatherleigh, Jacobstowe, Lewtrenchard, Lifton, Monkokehampton, Northlew, North Tawton, Okehampton, and Taw Green in the coming weeks.
Every effort is being made to minimise disruption during this work and existing infrastructure is used wherever possible. However, some road closures will be needed for the safety of the public and site staff while work is undertaken.
Survey work is nearing completion in Bridgetown, Buckfastleigh, Budleigh Salterton, Crabbers Cross, Dartington Hall, Dartmouth, Diptford, Harbertonford, Mill Cross, Ottery St Mary and Rattery, and the information returned to the design teams will be used to refine plans ready for construction. Surveys are also scheduled for Berry Pomeroy, Blagdon, Littlehempston and Totnes in the next few weeks.
Ahead of the fibre deployment, Airband’s teams check ducting, clear blockages and erect any poles that may be needed. In Somerset, work is being carried out to ensure the existing ducting from Norton Fitzwarren to Bishops Lydeard and beyond to Ash Priors, Fitzhead and Tolland is clear of obstructions in readiness for the deployment of fibre in these areas of Somerset. After this, they will be progressing further north and west to Bicknoller, Combe Florey, Crowcombe, Elworthy, Lydeard St Lawrence, Sampford Brett, Spaxton, Stogumber, West Bagborough and West Quantoxhead. This will be taking place over the next couple of months in Devon in Bradninch, Cullompton, and Halberton.
Design work is continuing for the planned network in Chulmleigh, Dolton, Halwill Junction, Hatherleigh, Jacobstowe, Kings Nympton, Northlew, North Tawton, St Giles on the Heath and Taw Green. Construction is currently on schedule to begin in these areas in the summer, subject to securing the necessary access from landowners.
Airband’s design teams are preparing plans for East Devon areas near Axminster, Gittisham, Seaton, Sidmouth, and as far as the Dorset border. In Teignbridge and the South Hams, Airband is designing new connections to Collaton Fishacre, Dartmouth, Dawlish, Marldon, Salcombe and Thurlestone. Survey teams will be handed these plans in April.
In Somerset, plans are currently being finalised for the rollout of fibre to the centre of Taunton and the areas south as far as West Buckland. Designs are also being drawn up for the villages to the east of Taunton, including Hatch Beauchamp, Henlade, Pitminster, Staple Fitzpaine and Stoke St Mary. Survey teams will shortly be heading out to these areas to assess what existing infrastructure can be used.
Councillor David Hall, CDS Board Member and Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “It’s encouraging to see Airband making such good progress in so many communities across Somerset and Devon. This latest rollout is making real in-roads to some of the most hard-to-reach areas of the region in order to provide Gigabit capable broadband to more of our local communities.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “Airband is covering a huge area of Devon and Somerset in the current rollout of fibre broadband and I’m pleased to see they’re making great strides to increase coverage across the CDS region. Thousand more homes and businesses in many of our hard to reach communities will get the Gigabit capable broadband access they need and deserve.”
Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “Continued investment in modern, digital infrastructure is a vital aspect of the inclusive growth and levelling up agendas in the Heart of the South West. So it is great to see the rollout of fibre broadband across Devon and Somerset, which is supported with funding from the HotSW LEP’s Growth Deal. The progress made to date has seen residents and businesses in some of our most rural communities benefit from much needed improvements to their internet connectivity.”
Redmond Peel, Director of Airband, said: “At Airband, we passionately believe that rural communities should have access to the same level of high-quality connectivity, and therefore opportunities, as those in urban areas. This is a huge step towards closing the digital divide and delivering industry leading connectivity to those who need it most.”
CDS has delivered superfast access to more homes and businesses than any other broadband programme in England, with over 315,000 premises receiving access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by CDS.
A list of the community areas covered by Airband’s contracts with CDS, along with anticipated completion dates and a map of the coverage areas is available on Airband’s website. The website also has an improved postcode checker to check for communities covered by CDS contracts.