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Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) has warmly welcomed further investment in broadband in the region as part of the Government’s announcement on Project Gigabit today.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has outlined the phasing of its £5 Billion commitment to delivering next generation broadband in the UK.

CDS is in the vanguard of the Government’s ambitions to build a Gigabit capable network across the entire country through its new contracts with Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet, which will install full fibre broadband across Devon and Somerset to more than 56,000 rural homes and businesses over the next four years.

The Government has confirmed that CDS, which is overseeing the rollout of broadband in Devon and Somerset, will be in line for further investment through the third tranche of the UK Gigabit Programme. Details of the investment allocated to the CDS region and timescale of when it will receive that support are yet to be revealed.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Project Gigabit is our national mission to plug in and power up every corner of the UK. We have already made rapid progress, with almost 40 percent of homes and businesses now able to access next-generation gigabit speeds, compared to just 9 percent in 2019. Now we are setting out our plans to invest £5 billion in remote and rural areas so that no one is left behind by the connectivity revolution.”

Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “We’re pleased that the Government has outlined its commitment to further funding in the CDS region through Project Gigabit. We fully endorse this drive for gigabit capable broadband infrastructure right across the country, and Devon and Somerset are at the forefront of that with our latest contracts.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “We’re proud to be leading the way on delivering Gigabit capable fibre broadband through our new contracts with Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet, and Project Gigabit will ensure that more hard to reach areas of Devon and Somerset will also benefit from further coverage in future. The additional support of vouchers will also help many residents and businesses to access gigabit connectivity.”

The planned and live delivery in the CDS region currently exceeds £100 million of investment which will provide gigabit connectivity to around 80,000 of the most rural properties in the UK.

This is made up of a combination of:

  • £78 million investment from the most recently awarded CDS contracts to cover 56,000 premises;
  • £7 million of ongoing delivery by Airband to 13,000 premises in North Devon, Torridge and West Devon;
  • £9.2 million of investment through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Schemes two previous vouchers which has helped to provide full-fibre broadband to more than 6,750 premises to date;
  • and delivery with Openreach to around 2,000 of the very hardest to reach rural premises costing £6.5 million through the Government’s “Gainshare” agreement with the company.

The new UK Gigabit Voucher has also been unveiled as part of the initial investment through Project Gigabit.

To date, the CDS region has drawn down more vouchers from the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, with its two previous vouchers (the Gigabit Voucher and the Rural Gigabit Voucher),than any other region in the UK – securing an additional £9.2 million of investment in gigabit connectivity for communities in Devon and Somerset.

The region also accounts for almost 16% of the total Rural Gigabit Vouchers claimed in England and 13% of those claimed in the UK.

Vouchers in the CDS region have helped to provide full-fibre broadband to more than 6,750 premises to date. This is the largest take-up of any area, even eclipsing London in second place with just over 4,640 vouchers.

Voucher-based broadband delivery in the CDS region now represents around 10% of all subsidised fibre build in Devon and Somerset and is set to rise with the announcement of the new UK Gigabit Voucher.

CDS has delivered superfast access to more homes and businesses than any other broadband programme in England, with over 300,000 homes and businesses receiving access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by CDS.

The Government’s UK Gigabit Programme, which will target a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025, will support economic growth and generate new job opportunities.

Across the region, these combined initiatives are being funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Heart of the South West LEP, CDS local authorities, European Regional Development Fund and the Rural Development Programme for England.