More than 26,000 North Devon homes and businesses to benefit from BT’s £2.5b roll-out

HIGH-speed fibre broadband is now available to homes and businesses in Barnstaple and Bideford, BT announced yesterday (Thursday).

Nearly 12,000 Barnstaple households and firms and more than 7,000 in Bideford now have access to the sophisticated technology – and this will increase to more than 26,000 premises in the two towns as engineers complete the local investment in the coming weeks.

They follow other Devon communities, such as Exeter, Newton Abbot, Plymouth and Ivybridge, where the high-speed technology is already available.

By the end of Spring 2014 nearly 300,000 Devon homes and businesses and about 1.5 million across the South West will be able to benefit as a result of BT’s £2.5 billion fibre broadband roll-out programme.

The company is also working in partnership with the public sector to reach parts of the South West that lie outside its commercial fibre broadband plans.

Jon Reynolds, BT’s South West regional director, said: “BT’s fibre network is expanding rapidly across the South West bringing a boost for local economies wherever it goes.

“Research suggests that within 15 years fibre broadband could bolster the economy of a typical town by £143 million and create 225 new jobs, 140 new start-up businesses and 1,000 more homeworkers.

“As more than a million UK households and businesses have already discovered, fibre broadband opens up a whole new world to internet users. Whatever you’re doing online, you can do it better and faster with fibre. It’s great for education, shopping, entertainment, the social networking we now carry out routinely online and it also offers huge benefits for businesses and public services.

“The arrival of fibre can really help local firms in these economically challenging times, opening up new ways of working and speeding up vital operations, such as file and data transfers, conferencing and computer back-up, all of which may also help cut costs.

“Our ambition doesn’t stop with our commercial roll-out. The Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership, of which BT is a major partner, aims to make fibre broadband available to around 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the two counties by the end of 2016.”

Councillor Barry Parsons, leader of Torridge District Council, said: “I am delighted to hear this news. High speed rural broadband is essential for our communities.

“In particular, it will give greater support for businesses to compete, for our children to access educational material, and for everyone to use the internet effectively. I am especially pleased to hear of Bideford and Barnstaple being among the first areas to gain such support.

“It is something for which a great deal of lobbying has been done by the councillors at Torridge District, North Devon and Devon county councils.

“It is here in Torridge that we must aspire to welcome knowledge-based industries as we seek to halt the departure of our children looking to better themselves elsewhere as a consequence of lack of facilities close to home. The impact of high speed Broadband has huge potential in a range of areas which we must embrace.”

Cllr Brian Greenslade, leader of North Devon Council, called the super-fast broadband roll-out one of the most important recent improvements for local businesses and households.

He said: “Increasingly, high-speed communications are an essential part of everyday life, whether you are working in an office, improving your education at home or just wanting to download a film or programme on-line. It is a vital part of ensuring our community’s future prosperity.”

Openreach, BT’s local network business, is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. FTTC offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps3 and could deliver even faster speeds in the future.