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High-speed broadband in Axbridge delivers boost for tourism

Press Release   •   May 20, 2016 13:08 BST

More than 10,500 households and businesses across the exchange areas of Axbridge, Cheddar, Street and Wells can now access superfast speeds of more than 24mbps, thanks to the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) broadband programme. The huge broadband boost for these towns is helping to create jobs, strengthen the economy and create local growth.

An event was held at The Parsonage B&B, one of the first Axbridge businesses to sign up for superfast broadband, to celebrate the roll-out of the high-speed technology in the town. It was attended by James Heappey, MP for Wells; Jennifer Trotman, Mayor of Axbridge; Maggie Stanley, chair of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce; and representatives of Connecting Devon and Somerset and BT.

Patricia Filer, the owner and manager of The Parsonage B&B, said: “In the past some of my guests would say that the broadband was a bit slow if they were using it after 6pm. They would have to go away and try later.Since taking out the new superfast broadband, we now offer free wi-fi to our guests because we understand that it is an important element to their stay and our guests couldn’t be happier with the new speeds.”

Wells MP James Heappey, who has been campaigning for superfast broadband to be made more widely available in the area, commented: "Last year, the tourism industry was worth £1.3 billion in Somerset and I believe there is still so much more potential for growth. Proper connectivity is absolutely essential in achieving that.

“High-speed internet connections bring a huge boost to our area and it was a pleasure to help announce the arrival of more fibre broadband locally. Our entire local economy benefits from these improvements.”

Mayor of Axbridge, Jennifer Trotman, said “This will give the people of Axbridge the opportunity to really make the most of the internet, both for work and pleasure. It will also have a huge benefit for tourists being able to see what the town has to offer and keep in touch with friends and family while they’re visiting.”

Maggie Stanley, the chair of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce, said “The small and micro businesses have historically been at such a disadvantage to those with multiple locations and bigger budgets. But now those who can use digital platforms and social media intelligently are able to level the playing field. Superfast broadband will enable Axbridge businesses to compete at a higher level and ultimately, create more jobs.”

The CDS programme, which commenced in 2013, is now around 80 per cent complete; with 1,300 cabinets live and more than 295,000 premises 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.

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for business inward investment and policy, said: “The roll out of superfast broadband to a further more than 10,500 premises in these exchange areas will help many homes and businesses bridge the digital divide. Phase 1 of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme is progressing extremely well with 80 per cent coverage already delivered. It’s achieving real benefits for our communities and businesses.”

Paul Coles, BT South West Regional Manager, added: “Every week our engineers are rolling out high-speed fibre broadband to more communities in challenging locations. This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses. If you are a businessperson, you can use it to find new customers and work more efficiently. If you are a local resident, you can use fibre broadband for a wide range of activities from entertainment and shopping to online learning and staying in touch with friends and relatives.”

END

NOTES TO EDITOR

About Connecting Devon and Somerset

Councils across Devon and Somerset are working together to bring faster broadband to rural Devon and Somerset – the “final third” – rural areas that are unlikely to benefit from commercial investment in broadband.

The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme covers Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council, and North Somerset Council areas.

In 2011 the programme secured £32 million of funding from the government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and both Somerset and Devon County Councils put in £10 million each. Further funding from Bath and North East Somerset Council brought the government and public sector contribution close to £53 million. With the £41 million additional investment from BT it took initial investment up to £94 million to improve broadband connectivity.

In 2014 BDUK announced a further £22.75m allocated to the CDS programme to support the extension of superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of households and premises. This was matched locally, which means the programme will benefit from an additional £45 million plus to invest in bringing superfast broadband to the area.

Most of the CDS programme will be Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology, which can deliver download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.These are the top wholesale speeds available to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

The new network is available on an open, wholesale basis to all broadband service providers. Households and businesses wishing to place an order or find out more about fibre broadband should contact their service provider.

In addition to the CDS programme, infrastructure is also being put in place across the region, mainly in urban areas, as part of a separate commercial programme, funded by the private sector. CDS is ultimately looking at providing 100 per cent faster broadband coverage across the region.

For more information, visit www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk

About “Get up to Speed”

The ‘Get up to Speed’ service is delivered by the Cosmic Peninsula Consortium on behalf of Connecting Devon and Somerset. The consortium, formed by Peninsula Enterprise and Cosmic IT, will undertake a series of workshops and events that will follow the infrastructure roll out as it moves across Devon and Somerset, helping businesses and individuals’ access information and develop the skills they need to get the most from the faster broadband speeds.

For more information, please visit www.get-up-to-speed.co.uk

About Superfast Britain

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

  • £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
  • £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
  • £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services

Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

For further information, visit https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. With effect from 1 April 2016, the group has been reorganised and the customer-facing lines of business are now: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com