Big Milestone for Second Phase of Connecting Devon and Somerset Programme

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) was celebrating a major milestone today with the announcement that the second phase of the CDS superfast broadband programme can now proceed to procurement following European Union approval of the national BDUK Broadband scheme.

The announcement by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is a major step forward for advancing the roll-out of superfast broadband across the CDS area.

The announcement is good news for residents and businesses waiting for the second phase since it means CDS can progress plans to go out to tender once BT and other broadband firms have provided essential information about their commercial roll-out.

This significant milestone for CDS came after the European Commission (EC) approved a new National Broadband scheme for the UK and found that the scheme complies with EU State Aid rules.

Securing EU approval for the national scheme was a pre-requisite for commencing the tender process for the CDS second phase. The State Aid rules limit publicly funded broadband only to areas where there is no commercial case for investment.

Said Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for business inward investment and policy: “This is great news, a major milestone for the extension of superfast broadband across Devon and Somerset has been passed. Once we have the up to date information we’ve asked for from BT and other broadband firms about their future commercial plans, we can get on with the tender process for phase two across our region. This is very welcome news for residents and businesses across our area.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, added: “It’s great news that the Commission has given State Aid clearance. It now substantially clears the path for us to launch our procurement process as soon as possible. I look forward to BT and other firms responding swiftly with their commercial plans and we can keep to our schedule of awarding a contract or contracts this year.”

The National Parks programme across Dartmoor, which also forms part of phase 2, is due to go live in June, providing residents and businesses with access to wireless superfast broadband.