Local employment boost as full fibre broadband rolled out in South Somerset
Independent internet service provider, Wessex Internet, is creating new job opportunities in Somerset to support the rollout of its fibre broadband network to rural areas.
The company, which is among the contractors delivering Connecting Devon and Somerset’s (CDS) latest full fibre broadband programme, is recruiting for multiple roles, including network construction team members to work from its newly opened civils operations base in Sparkford. Its recruitment drive highlights the importance of the delivery of broadband in supporting local economic recovery.
Wessex Internet is contracted by CDS to bring ultrafast broadband to over 3,600 homes and businesses in rural South Somerset as part of a publicly funded initiative. Rural communities from Wyke Champflower, down to Closworth, across to Ash and up to Compton Dundon are to be connected to ultrafast broadband over the next three years.
Wessex Internet, which is based in North Dorset now employs over 110 people. The company’s network construction team has already doubled in size since the beginning of the year, and is expected to grow another 50% in the coming months, with the majority of the new roles based in South Somerset.
Hector Gibson Fleming, CEO, at Wessex Internet said: “This is a major infrastructure project as we will be installing 270 kms of fibre optic cable to connect thousands of Somerset homes. Therefore, we’re scaling up our workforce considerably – from planners and project managers to engineers and civil engineering teams – to ensure that people across South Somerset get a world class internet connection.
“Our priority right now is to expand our network construction and civils team. We’ve invested heavily in new machinery, such as mole ploughs and directional drills, and we’ve just opened a new civils yard in Sparkford. We’re looking for local people with a good work ethic, who enjoy working outdoors and know the area, to join us.
“Unlike other internet providers, we predominantly lay our fibre using a soft dig method across fields and farmland, rather than digging up roads. Where possible, we recruit people who are local to the area in which we are working in and who are familiar with the type of terrain we face and farming practices.”
Councillor David Hall, CDS Board member and Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “I’m pleased to see that companies like Wessex Internet are creating job opportunities for local people to help deliver broadband connections for CDS. The delivery of broadband is vital to economic growth in our region, and as we look to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, it’s encouraging that investment in infrastructure is having immediate knock on effects in employment.”
Recent recruits have come from a variety of backgrounds – from an ex-Tattoo artist, first jobbers to recruits with previous experience in utilities, groundworks or agriculture.
Employee Eloisa Townsend from Somerset joined Wessex Internet in March as a Network Planner. She said: “My role as project planner means that I am often out and about, meeting landowners and residents. No one day is the same, and there are plenty of opportunities as the company is growing. We come from all walks of life and share a passion to get as many people as possible in rural communities connected to the internet.”
Wessex Internet’s build for the three year Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) contract commenced in May in Woolston, near North Cadbury and the first homes to be connected will be later this year in North and South Barrow, Babcary, Woolston and Marston Magna. Some of the villages to be connected include Sutton Montis, The Charltons, Hardington, Yeovilton, Tintinhull and Compton Dundon. Lynx Trading Estate in Yeovil and Bennetts Field Trading Estate in Wincanton are also included. For a full map and list of areas with connection dates visit www.wessexinternet.com/connecting-devon-and-somerset.