BARNSTAPLE is one of more towns to be scheduled for upgrade to superfast broadband by BT’s local network business Openreach in 2013. Okehampton and Tiverton are among other towns in Devon scheduled to be upgraded and join Bideford, which was added to the upgrade programme earlier this year.
Pete Ashton, South West policy representative of the Federation of Small Businesses who is based in North Devon, welcomed the news: “It gives a boost to local business and encourages more businesses to relocate into the South West, creating more opportunities for small business and employment alike, making our economy far more sustainable.”
Jon Reynolds, BT’s South West regional director, said: “Fibre broadband opens up a whole new, high speed world. This latest major investment will help the South West to overcome the current economic challenges and take full advantage of the upturn when it comes.
“Digital technology is fundamental to how we live and work – and in an increasingly connected world, high-speed communications will become even more essential in the years ahead. Research suggests fibre broadband could give a £143 million boost to a typical town’s economy and create 225 new jobs and 140 new businesses within 15 years.”
While Openreach aims to roll our fibre superfast broadband to 90% of Britain by 2017, the business community fears that much of North Devon could be in the 10% left out of this programme. Although the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme aims to ‘mop up’ those areas which do not prove viable for inclusion in the Openreach rollout, there is no guarantee that it will even be able to appoint a contractor to deliver its programme.
Superfast broadband is important to businesses because it enable services such as high quality voice and video conferencing to reduce business travel and the fast transfer of large video, graphics and data files. For residents it enables the download of movies, TV replay services and online gaming. An entire music album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature-length HD movie in less than 10 minutes.
Businesses and residents in areas not currently included in the Openreach programme can register their need for superfast broadband at superfast-openreach.co.uk