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Superfast broadband coverage 'a real boon' for Somerset city

Tuesday, March 24th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The arrival of superfast broadband will help Wells grow as an “international tourist destination” according to a local businessman.

More than 3,540 homes and businesses in the city now have access to speeds of 24Mbps or faster following the installation of 12 fibre broadband cabinets.

Coverage of the new fibre broadband network in the Somerset city will further increase as engineering work continues in the coming months.

Mark Tobin, general manager of the Swan Hotel and a major business leader in Wells, said superfast broadband will have an “enormously positive impact” on the economy of the city and on the hotel itself.

“To have 21st century technology in a 15th century building like the Swan will be quite something,” he said.

“Slow wi-fi connectivity is a problem for both domestic and overseas visitors, many of whom are used to superfast broadband in their own homes and businesses.

“Wells continues to grow as a major international tourist destination and business hub and the arrival of superfast broadband to the city will only aid the growth and diversity of our wonderfully vibrant city moving forward.”

More than 100,000 homes and businesses now have access to fibre broadband through the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme.

A further £45m has now been committed to the project, meaning close to £140m will be invested in bringing Devon and Somerset 95% coverage by the end of 2017.

Cllr David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said: “CDS remains on target to make superfast broadband available to around 90% of our homes and businesses by the end of 2016.

“This project is making a huge difference to people’s lives – the take-up rate in the areas that have gone live this year underlines just how keen businesses and members of the public are to get connected, and what a difference it can make.”

'Exciting technology'

CDS has gathered significant momentum in recent months, with more than 460 cabinets now ‘live’ thanks to the programme.

In addition, more than 2,500 individuals and businesses have attended events as part of the Get up to Speed programme, designed to help people get the most out of faster broadband through training events, workshops and roadshows.

Michael Johns, vice chairman of Wells Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said superfast broadband is rapidly becoming a necessity for businesses.

“For us to be able to say that Wells will have almost full superfast coverage is a real boon,” he said.

“Taking advantage of this should stand Wells-based companies in good stead, safe in the knowledge they’ve got the tools necessary to compete, whether that be regionally, nationally or even internationally.”

Paul Coles, South West regional manager for BT, said: “The arrival of superfast fibre broadband in Wells is another important milestone for the CDS programme.

“Our engineers are working hard to make this exciting technology very widely available across the city.

“Superfast broadband will make a major contribution to the future success and prosperity of Wells.”

He added that businesses can use superfast broadband to boost their competitiveness, while households can benefit from enhanced online learning and entertainment.

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