Twenty-first century broadband speeds reach Wookey Hole

The ambitious Connecting Devon and Somerset programme bringing broadband to rural homes and businesses has connected the historic underground caves of Wookey Hole to superfast broadband as well as making it available to 200 homes in Wookey Village.

The programme is making excellent progress to provide improved faster broadband to the ‘final third’ of premises, the majority in rural locations, unlikely to benefit from commercial broadband investment.

Wookey Village is one of the latest areas to benefit from the programme, which when combined with the plans of commercial providers, is set to make superfast speeds available to around 90 per cent of homes and businesses by the end of 2016.

In common with many other businesses taking-up superfast broadband across the region, Wookey Hole Caves anticipate lots of benefits to support them to improve their customer service, grow their business, and sustain local jobs.

Chris Goodchild, duty manager at Wookey Hole, said: “Superfast broadband will open-up many possibilities for our prehistoric caves, including our new £4 million 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. It will make our use of IT much more efficient, meaning fewer hours spent waiting for web pages to load and more time improving the attraction.

“Installing superfast wireless underground also means that customers can instantly engage with their friends and family via social media about their experiences, increasing the awareness of our caves to a potentially worldwide audience in moments.”

The programme has passed the halfway point. More than 800 cabinets are now connected to fibre broadband, and over 180,000 businesses and households across the programme area can now access fibre broadband.

Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said: “Connecting Devon and Somerset is supporting businesses, like Wookey Hole, to drive our economic growth and create jobs. 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.

“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 per cent 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 for us and has helped put the Mendip area on the map. For us to be able to say that Wookey Village has full superfast coverage is a real boon. 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: “Wookey Hole is a popular tourist destination for visitors to the area so plays an important role in supporting the local economy. Having a superfast connection will provide a massive boost to their business by enabling them to better exploit the new digital market place. For example, it can enable them to provide a more streamlined experience for visitors and guests with services like wi-fi, cashless transactions and automated check-in or attracting new customers with an increased web presence and other powerful online marketing tools.”

People can find out when their community will be connected to superfast broadband? Our website – http://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk – provides the latest details.