Wednesday, 23 March 2016 00:00

Rural broadband boost for south-west

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural broadband boost for south-west

Confirmed by the government, the funding will be matched by the private sector to generate a total of £8m to deliver ultrafast broadband speeds to at least 4000 premises.

Beneficiaries include high growth sectors, small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) business parks, rural businesses and residential and commercial developments.

The second phase of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme will eventually see the rollout of broadband across the final 10% of the region.

The CDS bid focussed the funding need on key business locations, SMEs, high growth sectors, housing and new employment locations in order to drive up economic growth.

Key growth sectors such as aerospace, low carbon energy, marine, creative industries and advanced engineering are all in line to benefit from the additional funding.

As part of the bid process, a CDS Ultrafast Broadband survey found that 72% of local businesses said their companies would be interested in signing up.

A further 16% said they would, depending on the cost.

Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council's cabinet member for economy and growth, said the extra funding would accelerate broadband roll out across the region.

The boost comes as the second phase of the CDS programme is about to get underway with the roll out of the superfast programme across the National Parks.

It will connect some 5,800 homes, farms and businesses across Exmoor and Dartmoor using wireless broadband technology.

Airband, a specialist in high speed wireless broadband for rural areas, is delivering the £4.6m scheme in the National Parks.

It represents a significant boost to our regional economy once implemented through supporting the growth ambitions of companies already located in the region as well as inward investors."

David Hall, Somerset County Council's cabinet member for business inward investment and policy, said: "This is a real vote of confidence from government on CDS's ability to deliver."

The first phase wass progressing extremely well with 80% coverage already delivered real benefits for communities and businesses, said councillor Hall.

High speed and highly reliable connectivity is critical to the long term wellbeing of the region, both in attracting people to live and employers to locate in the area.

The project would support the farming and land-based rural industries, which played a key role in the region's economy, said councillor Hall.

He added: "The extra investment will also form part of our drive to support broadband competition and consumer choice."

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