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MP heralds 'symbolic' arrival of fibre broadband in East Devon village

Wednesday, September 9th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

An MP has welcomed the “brilliant” arrival of superfast broadband in an East Devon village – despite the continuing row over the next phase of the rollout in the county.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire (pictured) said the village would be “symbolic of how people could enjoy the same benefits and speeds of urban areas in “one of the most beautiful parts of the country”.

More than 315 businesses and households in the village of Tipton St John now have access to faster speeds after the installation of the first fibre broadband street cabinet serving the centre of the village.

The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme aims to make superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above available to around 90% of Devon and Somerset premises by the end of 2016.

But programme bosses have come under fire from campaigners for delays to the second phase of the rollout after the CDS board failed to reach a deal with BT.

Last week, organisations representing more than 19,000 businesses across the two counties said any delays could be “fatal” to businesses in the area.

But on a visit to the broadband cabinet in Tipton St John, Mr Swire praised the CDS programme for hitting “ambitious targets” for the region’s fibre.

He said: “It’s brilliant to see Tipton St John as the latest East Devon community to be connected.

“Children, parents, grandparents and businesses all benefit from fibre broadband, and I want to see Tipton St John as symbolic of why we want to encourage people to stay on in this part of Devon and enjoy the same benefits and speeds of urban areas, whilst bringing up their families in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.”

Some 872 cabinets in the two counties have now been connected to the fibre network by the CDS partnership, giving more than 195,000 premises access to fibre broadband.

Dianne Mann, who owns a holiday let business in the village and is one of the first residents in the area to benefit from the rollout, said superfast broadband had allowed them to manage customer bookings more efficiently and provide free wi-fi.

'Waiting patiently'

Councillor Claire Wright, East Devon District councillor and Devon county councillor for Ottery St Mary, said: “The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, through Devon County Council, is now really taking off and linking up many villages to faster broadband.

“Tipton St John residents have been waiting patiently for faster broadband speeds and it is brilliant news that they have now been connected.

“Many people work from home across Ottery Rural – as in other parts of Devon – and superfast broadband is vital to the growth of the local economy.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, said: “The Connecting Devon and Somerset project to build a fibre network around the county is on schedule, literally connecting the county to the world.

“This is a significant step for Tipton St John. The benefits superfast broadband can bring are enormous – more and more, we find that people are reliant on high speeds for business and home life, and we’re ahead of the curve in being able to offer this.”

He said a small number of residents in the village are still unable to connect to the service and there is still a lot of work to do, but they hoped the next phase of the programme would increase coverage further.

Paul Coles, BT’s south west regional manager, said: “More than 390,000 Devon households and businesses now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme and BT’s own commercial rollout – and the number is continuing to grow rapidly.

“Our engineers are working hard to make this exciting technology widely available across the region and we’re delighted to see it so well-received in Tipton St John.”

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