Superfast broadband coverage extended across Devon & Somerset

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

A further 26,000 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset will get access to superfast fibre optic broadband by the end of July, it's been confirmed.

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), the organisation responsible for rolling out fibre broadband to rural areas within the two counties, said 70,000 homes and businesses within the region will now benefit from superfast broadband.

Just last month, CDS announced that 45,000 homes and businesses would get access to fibre-optic broadband by March through the 94 million project.

The programme's extension means homes and businesses in Braunton, Sowton, Pinhoe, Topsham, Kingskerswell and Swimbridge in Devon and Spaxton and North Petherton in Somerset will now benefit from the scheme.

CDS has also agreed to extend fibre broadband coverage in Ilminster and Newton Abbot by building on the technology already available through private sector deployments.

This work is all part of the programme's aim to deliver superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and more to around 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the region by 2016.

Furthermore, it also wants to guarantee a minimum of 2Mbps for premises within its boundaries.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, said the scheme's extension will help bolster the competitiveness of local businesses.

"Businesses across Devon will now have the chance to grow and develop and compete on a more equal footing with their more urban competitors," said Leadbetter.

Meanwhile, Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said the deployment targets should be met, despite extensive flooding in the region.

"Connecting Devon and Somerset is working very effectively to deal with these and ensure the rollout continues at a fast pace. For example, where the flooding is particularly serious we will switch some work to less severely affected areas until the waters subside," said Hall.

"We will do all we can to ensure that communities get access to superfast broadband as soon as possible."

Laurent Boon, BT's programme manager for Connecting Devon and Somerset, added: "Despite the difficult weather, the partnership has achieved strong progress and is already bringing great benefits to rural communities."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.