Business and Economy

DCMS backs bid to extend broadband funding for Devon and Somerset to 2023

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Posted on: 15 March 2019

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is backing a bid to extend £18.7 million of funding for superfast broadband in Devon and Somerset up to March 2023.

The news has been welcomed by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), England’s largest public-funded broadband programme. CDS has been working closely with the Department to secure the funding extension following the delays incurred by Gigaclear with the roll-out of its full fibre broadband network. CDS is one of a number of local programmes in the UK affected by delays involving different providers.

Councillor David Hall

Councillor David Hall, CDS Board Member, commented: “The decision by DCMS to back the bid to extend the broadband funding spend-by deadline is a huge boost to our economy and rural communities, and a vote of confidence in the CDS programme.

“In recognition of representations made by DCMS and CDS, I am delighted there has been a positive response from HM Treasury which is finalising an agreement for the funding extension with DCMS subject to the Spending Review process.

“The effect of such an extension will be to provide CDS with the flexibility to either agree an acceptable revised timetable with Gigaclear to complete a new ultrafast full-fibre network or for CDS to pursue alternative full-fibre solutions for our residents and businesses.

“CDS is agreeing similar support from other funders.  Whilst every effort to resolve the situation with Gigaclear is being made, CDS is also working with DCMS and the Heart of the South West LEP to consider alternative options and develop a Digital Strategy for the area.

“We are grateful to Digital Minister Margot James and her team at DCMS with whom we’ve been working closely, to Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and to Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane who has played an important role in co-ordinating the support of Members of Parliament. CDS has also benefited from the strong support of local authorities and LEPs.”

To date, CDS has provided access to superfast broadband to more than 300,000 homes and businesses, often in sparsely populated rural areas and over challenging terrain. A further 38,000 homes and businesses have benefited from improved broadband speed.

Public funding is leveraging greater commercial investment with the result that the CDS programme and commercially-funded networks are, together, providing over 950,000 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset with access to superfast broadband out of a total of 1,083,000 premises currently.

The programme continues to work to extend broadband coverage across Devon and Somerset, this includes construction by Airband of a new superfast wireless network for CDS that will provide access to superfast broadband for around 16,000 homes and businesses across mid, north and west Devon by June 2020. Airband is also completing a network to serve around 5,000 hard to reach properties in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks with superfast broadband.

The take up rate for all CDS-funded services currently stands at 54% and is generating significant resources for reinvestment thanks to the Government’s gainshare agreement with BT. Work is advancing on plans to extend BT’s network in the CDS area applying the first £6 million from this fund.

3 comments on “DCMS backs bid to extend broadband funding for Devon and Somerset to 2023

  1. Fran Chamberlain says:

    Great to hear about the funding. Will that mean that those nineteen or so of us in Rousdon and Combpyne who have no high speed internet connection may get a look in ? After BT had plans to connect us to the Lyme exchange along with most of our neighbours, BT conveniently forgot about some of us; leaving us on a limb. If we contact BT they report that we do have access to this exchange…..but we are still on miles of overhead cable through farmland and the golf course \ undercliff to Seaton. This leaves us with tiny speeds, and falling prey to the weather. Our next door neighbour was told they would Get a new line put in on the Lyme exchange…..of course it can’t happen. It took them a very long time and a bit of a fight just to get their money back. We were going to be a part of the Gigaclear scheme. The router and aerial we spent our CDS voucher on and some of our own money ceased to function after about a year, and never did work in heavy fog or rain. The very small company who put up the receiver up no longer exist, and the company who were originally going to put one up became uncontactable. We are feeling very neglected……

  2. John Shaw says:

    I have neighbours within 50 meters of my home all with fibre. BT refuses to put us on their distribution boxes which means we’re too far away to get any decent speeds. Who do we talk to about this?

  3. rewe says:

    more talk – no action , whilst we see more delays and still await broadband in rural areas

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