Bidders day shows Connecting Devon and Somerset is well connected

More than 30 telecoms companies attended the Connecting Devon and Somerset market engagement event in Taunton, in preparation for the tender for phase two of the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme.

More than 50 delegates from over 30 telecoms companies attended a market engagement event in Taunton, prior to the launch of a procurement process for phase two of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, which will take coverage to at least 95 percent.

The networking event connected CDS to a range of telecoms suppliers and initiated conversations about phase two of the superfast broadband rollout scheme. Delegates were offered an opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of the project, ahead of the formal invitation to tender in early 2016.

This event was an opportunity for attendees from the sector, which included fibre, wireless, mobile, back haul network and satellite providers, to exchange ideas with their peers and discuss collaborative working opportunities and innovative solutions, to over-come the challenges of connecting rural areas to the latest broadband technology.
The high-levels of attendance at this event demonstrates growing commercial interest for phase 2 of the CDS programme and increasing competition in the UK broadband market.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The digital landscape of Devon and Somerset is going through a remarkable change and we have already taken superfast speeds to an additional 200,000 properties. The next phase of our rollout will see us reach many thousands more homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset and this event has brought all interested parties together to consider the different technical solutions that can help us do this.”

Matthew Hare, Chief Executive, Gigaclear commented: “It’s great to see a local project group with such great ambitions to service homes and businesses in their footprint. It’s also interesting to see how CDS look at opportunities for private investment in super-fast services.”

Redmond Peel, Managing Director, Airband Community Internet Ltd said: “The market engagement event provided a great overview of the project and the progress to date. It also gave us an excellent opportunity to meet and network with everyone involved. We’re excited about the project and the opportunities it is creating for Airband.”

Chris Dawes, Head of Business Development, Airwave added: “The event articulated the aspirations of CDS and laid out the challenge to the market. Everyone now knows that delivering the last 10% will need high levels of flexibility and innovation – technically, commercially and financially. The day was a great opportunity to explore the art of the possible with other potential players.”

Ross Jack, Sales Manager, Relish ǀ UK Broadband said: “The CDS project brings superfast broadband to over 95% of the Devon and Somerset community, building on the great progress made so far. This is the largest project of its kind in the England and CDS is going about this in the correct way, engaging with suppliers at an early stage and looking at all technologies and solutions available. UKB Networks is delighted to be asked to be involved and is looking forward to bringing its combination of wired and wireless technologies to help address this challenge.”

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy said: “The telecoms companies who attended the event seized the opportunity to gain
clarification about the project before the formal invitation to tender is issued. CDS are committed to
building on the positive relationships that were established and we look forward to reviewing the bids which will be submitted in early 2016. The government were also extremely supportive of the event, which will prove an important factor in the success of phase two of the project. Meanwhile phase 1 continues, with the rollout remaining on target and on budget.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, said: “There were more than 30 suppliers attending which is testament to the commercial attractiveness of CDS. The attendees were excited by the opportunity to engage with the programme and had a great knowledge of the application of internet infrastructure.”