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Dartmoor and Exmoor to get wireless broadband network

Friday, July 3rd 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A wireless network will be used to bring broadband to the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks.

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) has announced it is partnering with wireless specialist Airband for the next phase of the superfast broadband programme across the national parks.

Phase 1 of the CDS programme is on track to deliver superfast broadband to 90% of homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset by the end of 2016.

CDS recently announced that it has rejected BT’s bid for a £35m contract for the second stage of the rollout amid concerns that the telecoms giant cannot meet the target of 95% coverage by the end of 2017.

Programme bosses had previously said that it would allow bids from other suppliers for Dartmoor and Exmoor.

And CDS has now announced that Worcester-based Airband, which specialises in wireless broadband for rural areas, will provide a fixed wireless access network to take faster speeds to 5,800 homes and businesses in the parks.

Wireless broadband works by passing a signal from a radio on a transmitter or mast to a radio attached to the final building, with a cable then taking it into the building.

The technology can be used to try to overcome physical obstacles like trees, hills or buildings, and also avoids the need to dig up roads to lay cables.

'Innovative approach'

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, said: “We are delighted that Airband has been chosen to roll out superfast broadband across the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks.

“They were selected for their innovative approach to delivering broadband in remote areas.

“This contract announcement represents the next big step towards our aim of achieving 100% coverage across the region.”

Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, added: “This is a very positive development for the region, as it becomes increasingly connected and this new contract represents a key part of our journey to bring faster broadband speeds to the whole of the region.”

Dartmoor National Park chairman Peter Harper said improved broadband coverage on Dartmoor was a “top priority” for the National Park Authority.

They have worked with CDS to develop something that will work with the “unique nature” of Dartmoor, he said, recognising how important broadband connectivity is to Dartmoor communities.

Dr Nigel Stone, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said the contract would make sure everybody across Exmoor would have access to improved broadband.

Redmond Peel, managing director of Airband, said they were delighted to be chosen to deploy the first large scale fixed network within the UK.

“Already providing internet services in many rural areas we appreciate the need for everyone to have access to the same high speeds.

“It is our desire to remove the rural/urban divide so everyone can have the same access to this essential service.”

He said Airband’s knowledge of deploying services in the Welsh hills had given them experience in dealing with the challenges they would come across in the National Parks.

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