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44,000 properties to gain superfast broadband in Devon and Somerset

By tobymeyjes  |  Posted: December 09, 2013

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The next communities to benefit from the £94 million project to bring superfast broadband to Devon and Somerset have been announced.

It is expected a further 44,000 homes in 31 areas, including Okehampton, Shillingford and Sandford, will gain access to the technology by March next year.

The 31 communities join seven town and villages already announced as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset scheme.

The programme aims to make broadband speeds of up to 24Mbps available to 90% of homes and businesses in the two counties by the end of 2016.

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Laurent Boon, BT’s programme manager for Connecting Devon and Somerset, said: “The arrival of fibre broadband is one of the most important investments in Devon and Somerset in recent times.

“High-speed fibre broadband is transforming the way we live and work. For businesses, it can help deliver a competitive edge, which will help them attract new customers and find new, more efficient ways of working.

“For households, it’s ideal for quick and efficient on-line shopping, entertainment, education, research and social networking.”

The Connecting Devon and Somerset scheme includes Devon and Somerset County Councils, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay Councils, BT and the UK Government’s Superfast Britain programme.

Ed Vaizey, minister for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries, said: “The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a welcome boost to the local economy,” he said.

The news comes following a Treasury-promised £10 million to fund the development of new ways to improve broadband speeds in rural areas.

It aims to open a competitive fund early next year which will be used to test broadband solutions aimed at the most difficult-to-reach parts of the UK.

Sir Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance said: “We hope this fund will ensure the roll-out of broadband happens as swiftly as possible, which will ensure the digital divide does not grow any wider and enable rural communities to compete economically and socially.”

The 31 communities to benefit in the next roll out are: Bishop’s Hull, Bridford, Chilton Trinity, Christow, Combe Florey, Comeytrowe, Corfe, Cotford St Luke, Crediton, Dunchideock, Exminster, Hatherleigh, Hemyock, Newton St Cyres, North Tawton, Nynehead, Okehampton, Okehampton Hamlets, Petrockstow, Ruishton, Sampford Arundel, Sandford, Shillingford St George, Shobrooke, South Tawton, Stoke St Gregory, Thurloxton, Trull, Wembdon, West Buckland and West Monkton.

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