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Devon and Somerset UK County Councils Join Forces in Superfast Broadband Bid

Posted: 30th Mar, 2011 By: MarkJ
uk devon and somerset broadbandTwo neighbouring counties in South West England (UK), Devon County Council (DCC) and Somerset County Council (SCC), have teamed up in order to make a joint bid for funds from the Government's new Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office. The money, which is to be taken from BDUK's budget of £530m until 2015 (rising to £830m by 2017), will be used to help deploy superfast broadband internet access services across both counties.

According to the plan, both county's want to see broadband services deployed that can deliver ISP download speeds exceeding "20MB/s to 85% of businesses and homes, with a minimum of 2MB/s to all premises by 2015". That's obviously a typo because MB/s are MegaBytes, where as what they meant to say was Mb/s for MegaBits (only eight times difference :tongue:). Hopefully the government knows what they mean otherwise their bid could run into a wall.

The ultimate goal is superfast broadband for everyone, as far as possible, or so they say. This would be a substantial improvement on the situation now where nearly a quarter of homes and businesses in Somerset and Devon (300,000) currently have no or very slow broadband.

In Devon 22% of businesses said that slow broadband acted as a constraint on growth and productivity, with 75% claiming that improved speeds would assist their business. In Somerset poor broadband is a barrier for 22% of rural businesses, compared to 5% of businesses in urban areas.

Devon County Councillor, Will Mumford, said:

"This is a significant milestone that will enable us to build on our economic potential for both counties. It will support business growth, enabling access to new markets, encouraging enterprise and promoting employment opportunities that can boost the local economy and create new prospects for businesses across the region.

From filing VAT returns to farming records, most of the government departments are shifting to online submission, so it is vital that people can access a reliable and consistent service at an acceptable speed.

I am delighted that we are working with Somerset on this pioneering bid; this is one of many initiatives we are considering to support business and the roll out of broadband, and we can both profit from our joint approach."

Somerset County Councillor, David Hall, said:

"Securing improved connectivity for businesses is a key priority for Somerset County Council our prospective Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Our plans will deliver connectivity to our many businesses and communities in market and coastal towns and remote rural areas. It will transform the competitiveness of our many small and medium sized rural businesses, attract new businesses and help local businesses to grow - ultimately leading to more and better jobs.

The substantial funding that Somerset County Council has committed today demonstrates how important we feel this is to our economy and our communities."

The two county's aim to submit their applications before the current 18th April 2011 deadline and a decision is expected to be made by the end of May. Meanwhile residents and businesses are being urged to complete a survey. The results will give greater insight into the issues faced by the community. The survey can be accessed online at http://www.connectingsomerset.co.uk, where more information on superfast broadband is also available.
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