CDS to deliver superfast broadband to thousands more in Devon and Somerset
A major expansion of broadband rollout across Devon and Somerset has received Government approval to provide thousands more homes and businesses in the two counties with access to a superfast connection.
The Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) agency has given the go-ahead for Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) to increase access to its planned ultrafast (up to 1,000Mbps) broadband with Gigaclear to 6,000 more homes and businesses in hard to reach areas of Devon and Somerset.
Gigaclear is already building a new full fibre broadband network on behalf of CDS for over 41,000 homes and businesses initially. This work is due to be completed by December 2019. Today’s announcement paves the way to extend the network even further by December 2020.
Information about the Gigaclear roll-out timetable will be updated regularly on the web at www.gigaclear.com/connecting-devon-and-somerset-rollout-schedule. Residents and businesses can also expect to receive news and information from Gigaclear and CDS by post.
CDS is also finalising proposals to Government to expand the superfast wireless broadband coverage by Airband to around a further 3,000 homes and businesses across northern and west Devon by December 2020, with the capacity to deliver ultrafast speeds.
Airband is currently building a new wireless network for CDS that will provide access to superfast broadband for 13,000 homes and businesses across the area by December 2019, and is completing a network to serve almost 5,000 hard to reach properties in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks with superfast broadband.
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.
So far, over 248,000 miles (400,000 kms) of fibre cable have already been laid, enough to circle the Earth ten times, in a programme that has taken over 2 million-man hours to date.
CDS 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 David Hall, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, said: “CDS is making a huge positive difference to people’s lives with over a quarter of million homes and businesses now having access to superfast broadband. We want to do more for our hardest to reach communities and I’m delighted that the Government has backed our plans to expand the programme in Somerset so that we can provide superfast broadband to even more people.”
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 Gigaclear and Airband provider web sites will have their 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.”
Joe Frost, Business Development Director at Gigaclear, said: “We’re delighted to once again expand our network in the South West and it’s fantastic to secure further funding allowing Gigaclear to bring ultrafast, full fibre broadband to even more homes and business across the county. It’s only right that more residents get the opportunity to experience the benefits of full fibre-to-the-premises broadband and this further investment helps to secure the UK’s digital economy, especially in rural locations.”
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.