Three companies have been chosen to roll-out dedicated full-fibre broadband networks across Somerset and Devon, thanks to Government funding.
Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet will be installing the fibre networks on behalf of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, providing a service to more than 56,000 rural homes and businesses over the next four years.
The three companies all have experience of working in the region and between them have already delivered connections to nearly 41,000 premises.
In the new roll-out, Airband will be expanding its full-fibre coverage into rural areas of Somerset West and Taunton, parts of Sedgemoor, East Devon, as well as areas of Mid Devon, South Hams and Teignbridge.
Truespeed will be working in Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset, Mendip and part of Sedgemoor, while Wessex Internet will deliver in rural communities of South Somerset.
Work is due to start next year for completion in 2024.
The initiative is being funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Heart of the South West LEP, CDS local authorities, European Regional Development Fund and the Rural Development Programme for England.
Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman MP, said: “Today’s announcement marks a major step forward in our mission to build back better in the South West, with thousands of homes and businesses set to be linked up to lightning fast gigabit broadband thanks to an £18.4 million investment by the government.
“With Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet now on board I am confident we will deliver on our ambition for an infrastructure revolution in Devon and Somerset.”
Councillor David Hall, CDS Board Member and Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “We’re pleased to confirm the appointment of three well-established, regionally-based suppliers to help with the challenge of delivering the next phase of the CDS programme.
“They have significant experience of delivering broadband connections in rural areas of Devon and Somerset, so they have an understanding of the remote areas where CDS is looking to improve connectivity.
“This investment will deliver full fibre broadband ahead of many other parts of the country.”
The CEO of Bath-based Truespeed, Evan Wienburg, said: “We are delighted to have won these prestigious contracts with CDS to bring Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to harder to reach communities in the south west.
“As a Somerset-based business focused on building out our own full fibre infrastructure to areas left behind by the industry giants, we are the natural partner for CDS.
“The requirement for full fibre broadband is essential as more people study and work from home.
“Many Truespeed customers are already benefiting from our ultra-reliable, ultra-fast broadband service and we will continue to work as hard and as fast as we can to accelerate our roll out.”
Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “This is excellent news for our rural communities and businesses across North Somerset.
“It is also fantastic to learn that Truespeed will be installing this in our district. The company is a local start up, having started life in Newton St Loe, then moved to Keynsham and now based in Bath.
“Its local knowledge will be invaluable.”