Thousands of homes and businesses in Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset will be able to connect to one of the fastest broadband networks in the UK following a major contract announcement by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS).
CDS, a local government-led partnership, has signed a £10.3 million investment deal with ultrafast broadband provider Gigaclear that will give 6,500 rural homes and businesses the opportunity of broadband speeds up to 1,000 mbps.
Under the deal, Gigaclear will be investing £7.8 million of private sector money and building an entirely new all-fibre network to connect directly to homes and businesses.
Over 28,000 homes and businesses in Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset already have access to superfast broadband under an earlier construction deal by CDS with BT. Tens of thousands more have access via entirely commercial provision.
CDS is the biggest public funded broadband programme in England. It connects rural communities and businesses to the world wide web where the commercial market won’t. It does this by awarding tax-payer subsidised contracts to companies through competitive tender to build the infrastructure needed such as fibre or wireless connections.
To date, 320,000 homes and businesses across Devon, Somerset, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset now have access to broadband as a result of CDS intervention.
In addition to CDS’ investment, around two thirds of all broadband infrastructure – fibre, fibre to the cabinet, wireless, satellite – is wholly commercial which is why Government targets are heavily dependent on the private sector maintaining its investment programme.
CDS will continue to use public money wisely to fill as many gaps as it can and lobby the private sector to connect those areas it has designated for a commercial roll-out. It is vital that commercial providers honour their commitments and that Government puts pressure on them to do so.
Cllr Paul Myers, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration said: “Excellent broadband infrastructure is essential for our economy to remain competitive. This is good news as it will give our businesses access to some of the fastest broadband speeds available and the ability to trade without boundaries. For our residents, it means the whole family can get on-line to take advantage of all that the internet has to offer.”
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for economic development, said: “Digital connectivity is a vital element of our economy and everyday life, but the market alone cannot deliver. Here in North Somerset public sector intervention has been vital in ensuring rural communities and businesses will not be left behind. I am pleased that this new investment continues our drive to provide the best broadband for our communities and economy.”
Joe Frost, Business Development Director at Gigaclear, said: “We’re delighted to win this contract to build this completely new, full fibre broadband network in North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset. It will be socially and economically transformative, delivering speeds up to 33 times faster than the UK average and crucially for business the upload speeds are just as fast.”