Wednesday, 08 June 2016 20:36

Workshops help speed up broadband

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Workshops help speed up broadband

More than 12,000 residents and businesses have improved their digital skills thanks to special workshops in Devon and Somerset.

The Get up to Speed initiative runs free workshops and talks for communities and businesses to help boost digital skills and share the benefits of faster broadband.

Since launching in Spring 2014, the service has delivered over 500 events and supported more than 9,000 business representatives, and 3,800 community residents.

The aim is to ensure businesses can take full advantage of a £94 million investment in digital infrastructure by the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme.

The programme will see hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the two counties able to access fast broadband speeds by the end of the year.

Workshops offer businesses free, independent advice and guidance to help micro, small and medium sized enterprises identify, adopt and exploit superfast broadband technology.

The service can help businesses reduce costs, increase their offer to existing customers, find new customers and strengthen their competitiveness.

Local residents can also benefit by gaining a better understanding of social media, accessing online public services and making the most of digital services.

Jo Pearson, clerk to Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Council ,said "Get up to Speed held a Drop In Surgery at Cheddon Hall for people to pop in with their devices and tech questions.

"The team were on hand to offer advice and answer specific questions on choosing a broadband deal, using the internet, e-mail, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, social media and much more."

The CDS programme, which commenced in 2013, is now around 80%.

More than 295,000 premises are capable of connecting to fibre broadband, nearly 250,000 of which can connect to superfast speeds of more than 24mbps – a number which is growing rapidly.

Somerset council leader David Hall said: "The Connecting Devon and Somerset Programme is aiming to encourage businesses to make the most of superfast connectivity when it arrives.

Delivering practical workshops and a digital toolkit was another step towards this goal, said councillor Hall.

"Improved broadband access will open up a whole new world of opportunities."

Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth at Devon County Council, said it was important everyone was aware of the technology and what it could do.

'It has a wide range of benefits for business, particularly in rural areas like Devon and Somerset.

"It is more important that we make sure everyone is aware of how it can help them and how to benefit from the new technology."

Some villages have even gone on to provide group sessions afterwards to help transfer skills and knowledge to more people and businesses.

Community engagement coordinator Nicky Demellweek said "We aim to inspire people to improve their digital skills and make the most of faster connection speeds.

"We try to engage with as many communities and businesses as possible, so we run sessions in locations accessible for multiple parishes and organisations.

"The Get up to Speed service is fully funded so there is no charge for us to deliver our sessions."

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