Chard goes live with superfast broadband

Nearly 6,000 businesses and households in Chard now have access to faster, more reliable broadband.

Superfast broadband is taking off in Chard as the Somerset town becomes the latest community  to benefit from the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, set up to deliver superfast fibre broadband. An event was held at local firm One Step Recruitment, in Holyrood Street, to celebrate  the arrival of superfast broadband in the town, attended by Jenny Kenton, Mayor of Chard, and Garry Shortland, chair of the Chard Town  Team and  representatives of  Connecting Devon and Somerset and BT.

Currently, there are 24 fibre broadband cabinets ‘live’ within the Chard area, meaning that nearly 6,000 premises can connect for the first time to superfast broadband. Hundreds of homes and businesses in the Chard area are already using the service. Outlying villages such as Chaffcombe and Combe St Nicholas have also recently ‘gone live’ with the high-speed technology , Further areas of Somerset are scheduled to  get access to the high-speed technology ’ later in the year. Residents can check the status of each postcode in the programme using the Where and When map on the CDS website at http://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/where-when/

The CDS programme is on target to make superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above available to around 90 percent of homes and businesses by the end of 2016. The project has already made fibre broadband available to more than 100,000 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset.

Cllr David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said: “CDS remains on target to make superfast broadband available to around  90 per cent 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 just how keen businesses and members of the public are to get connected, and what a difference it can make.”

David Laws, Education Minister and Yeovil MP, said: “I’m delighted for everybody in Chard who now has the opportunity to access superfast broadband as a result of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme. The ability to access high quality communications infrastructure is both critical to businesses and an important part of improving quality of life, and the more people across Devon and Somerset who are connected, the better for everybody.”

Jenny Kenton, Mayor of Chard, said: “This will give the people of Chard 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.”

Garry Shortland, chair of the Chard Town Team, said: “The small, independent local trader has historically been at such a disadvantage to those with multiple locations and bigger budgets. But now those who can use digital platforms and social media intelligently are able to level the playing field and punch above their weight. Superfast broadband will enable Chard businesses to compete at a higher level and ultimately, create more jobs.”

One of the first companies to sign up is One Step Recruitment, which has an office in Holyrood Street, Chard, as well as one in Taunton. Branch manager Dan Shortland said: “Superfast broadband is a massive plus not only for businesses like ours, but for our clients and candidates. Being able to upload and download information quickly makes the whole process of helping people into the right jobs so much easier.”

There are six local authority partners in CDS: Devon and Somerset County Councils, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, along with delivery partner BT. What was originally a £94m programme that would enable around 90 per cent of homes and businesses to get access to superfast broadband  by the end of 2016 has now been expanded, with a further £45m being committed so that 95 per cent can be reached by the end of 2017.

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

Paul Coles, South West regional manager for BT, said: “The CDS programme is bringing huge superfast broadband benefits to people in areas previously not reached by this exciting technology. Businesses can use it to become more competitive and work more efficiently, whilst households can benefit from a wide range of online learning and entertainment opportunities. We look forward to bringing superfast broadband to more areas of Devon and Somerset in the months ahead.”