Access to full fibre broadband is to be rolled out to homes and businesses by internet service provider Airband as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme.

The network of Gigabit capable full fibre broadband is nearing completion on providing access to 1,150 homes and businesses in Berry Pomeroy, which is expected to be ready for service in the spring.

The full-fibre broadband industry is continuing to face national and international pressures affecting a number of areas of the sector including recruitment and retention, supply of materials and civil engineering capacity. To cope with these issues and the additional challenges of building fibre broadband networks in rural areas, such as securing wayleave (land access) agreements, Airband has revised its build plans for its contracted areas including the South Hams. These plans have been agreed with CDS and BDUK (Building Digital UK).

In Devon, work is starting this winter to build access to almost 900 premises from Thurlestone to Salcombe and over 700 in Dartmouth.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said:

“It’s excellent news that thousands more people now have access to gigabit capable full fibre broadband and that work is due to get underway to provide even more connections. A huge amount of infrastructure work is due to take place over the next 12 months which will eventually provide access to a further 14,000 premises.”

Redmond Peel, Founder and Director of Airband, said: “We’re very pleased with the progress made on this project so far, and encouraged by the number of households and businesses that are already benefitting from it. Many more people have registered interest in the project, which bodes very well for the region as a whole in terms of increased access to the benefits of FTTP broadband. Compared with more urban settings, building, maintaining and upgrading rural broadband networks can present some unique challenges – for instance to date, across the whole project, we have applied for and obtained over 550 wayleaves. Working closely with CDS, we strive to meet these challenges head on and are looking forward to connecting many more communities in 2023 and beyond.”

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “Rural connectivity is vital to improving productivity and prosperity across the Heart of the South West. It’s fantastic that thousands more homes and businesses will benefit from full fibre broadband, helping to keep communities connected, and ensure businesses don’t miss out on going digital.”

CDS has delivered superfast access to more homes and businesses than any other broadband programme in England, with over 315,000 premises receiving access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by CDS.