Thousands more homes and businesses across northern, central and west Devon will be able to connect to superfast broadband following a major contract announcement by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS).
CDS, a local government-led partnership, has signed a £7 million investment deal with superfast wireless broadband provider Airband that will give 13,000 rural homes and businesses in some of the hardest to reach areas of the region the opportunity of broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps and the future capacity to deliver ultrafast speeds up to 1Gbs.
This will add to the 320,000 homes and businesses across the whole of Devon, Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset now have access to broadband as a result of CDS intervention.
Although CDS is the biggest public funded broadband programme in the UK, it is important to note that the vast majority of broadband infrastructure is provided commercially, which is why Government targets are heavily dependent on the private sector maintaining its investment programme. CDS fills the gaps, connecting rural communities and businesses to the world wide web where the commercial market will not provide the infrastructure. It does this by awarding public subsidised contracts to companies through competitive tender to build the infrastructure needed, such as fibre or wireless connections.
Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “Digital connectivity is a vital element of our economy and everyday life, but the market alone cannot deliver. In the hardest to reach areas of Devon public sector intervention from Connecting Devon and Somerset has been instrumental in ensuring rural communities and businesses will not be left behind. We are reducing social isolation, enabling more people to get help, advice and information in their homes and helping our businesses to trade without boundaries. I am pleased that this new investment continues our drive to provide the best broadband for our communities and economy.”
The equipment used by Airband is locally researched and designed with the unique landscape of the South West in mind, having proven an ideal solution across both Dartmoor and Exmoor, where the terrain is particularly challenging. Superfast broadband has already been rolled out to over 69,000 homes and businesses on Dartmoor and Exmoor under an earlier construction deal with Airband and BT for CDS and the National Park Authorities. Tens of thousands more have access via entirely commercial provision.
The Airband solution uses future-proofed fixed wireless technology to deliver a superfast connection where fibre is not available. A signal is transmitted to a small radio receiver attached to the home or business. A cable is then run into the building, which connects to a router and completes the link in the same way as a typical fibre or ADSL connection.
Camphill Devon, based in Buckfastleigh, was connected to Airband’s superfast broadband service under an earlier phase of the CDS programme. The charity, which provides accommodation and support to adults with learning disabilities, is delighted with its connection, having signed up for the service back in September.
“Camphill Devon has benefitted greatly from the superfast broadband service that Airband has been able to offer. We are now able to enjoy incredible speeds of up to 50Mbps, making day to day operations for staff much more efficient,” said John Green, General Manager at Camphill Devon. “In addition, our residents and visitors here at Camphill are now able to use the connectivity as a support for their learning programmes, alongside added recreational activities such as downloading films and music, making the solution a good fit for all.”
Redmond Peel, Managing Director of Airband, commented: “Our whole ethos is focused on getting good value, high speed, quality broadband to the hardest to reach parts of the country, helping to tackle the digital divide between rural and urban areas. The technology is completely future-proofed so speeds will only increase in years to come.
“Our Dartmoor and Exmoor project has been both enjoyable and successful, and we’re wholly delighted to be contributing to the rollout of superfast broadband across further areas of Devon.”