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Prehistoric Wookey Hole caves to get superfast broadband

Wednesday, August 5th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The historic underground caves of Wookey Hole are to benefit from superfast broadband.

Superfast speeds will also be made available to 200 homes in Wookey Village as part of efforts by the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme to bring faster broadband to the “final third” of premises unlikely to benefit from a commercial rollout.

The programme, when combined with commercial plans, is set to make superfast speeds available to 90% of homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset by the end of 2016.

Chris Goodchild, duty manager at Wookey Hole, said: “Superfast broadband will open up many possibilities for our prehistoric caves, including our new £4m show cave.

“These speeds are a necessity for any business these days, so we were very enthusiastic to connect as quickly as possible.

“We will improve customer experience by making our online purchase system quicker and detect any faults with our cave lighting or 4D cinema straight away.”

He said it would also make Wookey Hole's IT more efficient, and allow visitors to use social media in the caves – increasing awareness of the tourist attraction to a worldwide audience instantly.

Announcing the arrival of superfast broadband in Wookey Village, CDS said the programme has now passed the halfway point with more than 180,000 homes and businesses across the two counties now able to access fibre broadband.

Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said: “Faster speeds present new opportunities to communicate more effectively online, make better use of IT to become more efficient, and extend the number of customers that businesses can reach out to.

'A real boon'

“Homes in Wookey Village can also connect. Families can access better connections to work from home, do homework, stream many devices at the same time, and connect with friends and relatives across the globe.

“Our programme is making excellent progress across the region to deliver our first target of superfast speeds to around 90% of homes and businesses.”

James Heappey, MP for Wells, said: “It is great news that another village has been connected to superfast broadband and I hope that local residents will take advantage by contacting their internet service provider.

“Superfast connectivity is absolutely essential to residents and businesses alike and I will continue to work with BT and the Connecting Devon and Somerset project team to get our area the connections we so desperately need.”

Harvey Siggs, leader of Mendip District Council, said Wookey Hole is an important attraction and had helped put the area on the map.

“For us to be able to say that Wookey Village has full superfast coverage is a real boon,” he said.

“This will give local people the opportunity to really make the most of the internet.

“It will help people with online shopping, learning, entertainment and paying household bills, and allow small businesses to function more effectively.”

Paul Coles, BT’s South West regional manager, said having a superfast connection would provide a huge boost to Wookey Hole by helping them provide things like wi-fi, cashless transactions and automated check-in, as well as attracting new visitors.

CDS recently hit the headlines after it announced that it had been unable to secure a “value for money deal” with BT, so the tender for the £35m contract for the next phase of the rollout would be reissued.

Broadband campaigners demanded answers after the announcement, saying the counties would be stuck with "dial-up speeds”.

Picture courtesy of 'William'.

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