CDS bids to get superfast broadband to thousands more in northern and west Devon

Thousands more homes and businesses in northern and west Devon could be in line for access to superfast broadband if the Government approves a major expansion plan by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS).

Airband is currently building a new wireless network for CDS that will provide 13,000 homes and businesses in the area with access to superfast broadband by the time the current contract is completed in December 2019. The company is also completing a network to serve almost 5,000 hard to reach properties in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks.

Airband’s work for CDS includes the use of survey drones and construction of wireless masts with the capacity to deliver ultrafast speeds. The first communities to gain access will be in Lapford, Bere Ferrers, Kings Nympton, Langtree and Chumleigh.

Today, CDS has announced it is finalising a bid to Government for approval to expand the programme further. If the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) agency gives the go-ahead it would see the Airband network extending access to superfast broadband to around 3,000 more homes and businesses in hard to reach areas of northern and west Devon by 2020.

Information about the Airband roll-out timetable will also be regularly updated on the Airband project page, which can be found by entering your postcode at www.airband.co.uk/connecting-devon-and-somerset. Email updates will also be available for any resident or business who registers their interest via the form on the Airband project page.

CDS connects some of the hardest to reach communities in England, where the commercial market will not provide the infrastructure. To date, more than 250,000 homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband thanks to CDS investments *. CDS does this by awarding public subsidised contracts to companies through competitive tender to build the infrastructure needed, such as fibre or wireless connections. CDS is only able to invest where suppliers have no declared and credible plans to invest their own resources to extend their networks.

It is backed with funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, local authorities and the private sector.

The proposed expansion complements an increased level of commercial investment in broadband across the region.

Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “Having access to broadband is a vital element of our economy and everyday life, but in the hardest to reach rural areas the commercial market is not going to deliver without support, we have to work together. The CDS programme has been delivering the cabinets and masts that already provide superfast access for more than 250,000 homes and businesses. We are now starting the roll-out of the next phases which will reach even more rural areas and, together with the providers, we want to ensure you have the latest information. These are major engineering projects, and there are a number of challenges to completing these new networks. Deployment updates and latest news can be found through www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk. The Airband provider web site will have its own detailed information about individual properties.”

Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “CDS is another great example of our Growth Deal with Government delivering tangible benefits throughout the whole of the Heart of the South West area – which covers Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay.
“By working in partnership with the local authorities and National Parks in these areas, we’re enabling new businesses to start up and existing ones to be more productive by providing ultrafast broadband where the commercial market wouldn’t reach. We’re pleased to welcome this latest expansion of CDS.”

Redmond Peel, Managing Director of Airband, commented: “With our work in Dartmoor and Exmoor almost complete and the build now underway in Devon, the prospect of being able to help even more homes and businesses to get connected is really exciting. Both Devon and the wider UK initiative to ensure rural and hard to reach areas receive fast, reliable broadband is really working, and now accelerating, and we’re delighted to be a part of it.”

CDS continues to pursue other funding options and solutions to support homes and businesses which are not able to benefit from these new networks. For example, CDS will be reinvesting public subsidy returned by BT as ‘gainshare’ or dividend from increased take-up of internet services to help fill gaps in the current planned coverage. CDS is in discussion about the final amount and will reinvest the money to extend full fibre broadband coverage to as many communities without a service as possible.

*Confirmation of the CDS programme’s coverage for its first phase will be announced on completion of a final assurance audit which is currently underway.