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70,000 new broadband connections coming to Devon and Somerset

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Businesses and homes in Somerset and Devon are set to benefit from superfast broadband access by the summer.

BT has revealed it expects to complete its project to connect 70,000 properties in the area by July.

The £94 million initiative will see the service rolled-out across the region, with Braughton, Pinhoe, Topsham, Sowton, Swimbridge and Kingkerswell all benefiting in Devon, while North Petherton and Spaxton will also feel the difference in Somerset. A further seven towns are also expected to go live by the end of March.

It’s hoped the upgrade will encourage more local business investment, with firms likely to see the towns that can now receive superfast broadband as a more attractive proposition. This is because companies will have access to better technology, making remote working and video conferencing much easier to facilitate.

Many of the areas to reap the rewards from BT’s work are in the countryside. The telecommunications giant has said it expects 90 per cent of residents to be able to take advantage of internet speeds of 24Mbps by 2016.

Cabinet member for economy and growth at Devon County Council councillor Andrew Leadbetter said: “Businesses across Devon will now have the chance to grow and develop, and compete on a more equal footing with their more urban competitors.”

The announcement of the expected end date of the project came on the first anniversary of the conception of the partnership between Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) and BT. It has also been well received by local business and community leaders, after recent flooding in the region severely hampered the work of engineers attempting to roll-out the network.

To date, around 16,000 properties have benefited from the CDS scheme, with BT’s programme manager Laurent Boon describing it as a “major boost to businesses and households in rural areas”.