New contractors to roll out fibre broadband across region

Three companies have been selected to roll-out full fibre broadband networks on behalf of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, backed by Government funding.

Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet will be installing full fibre broadband across Devon and Somerset to more than 56,000 rural homes and businesses over the next four years.

The combined public and private sector investment of around £80million will be in the vanguard of the Government’s ambitions to build a Gigabit capable network across the UK.

The three companies all have experience of working in the region and, between them, have already delivered connections to nearly 41,000 premises in the CDS region.

In the new roll-out, Airband will be expanding its full fibre coverage into rural areas of Somerset West and Taunton, parts of Sedgemoor, East Devon, as well as areas of Mid Devon, South Hams and Teignbridge.

Truespeed will be working in B&NES (Bath & North East Somerset), North Somerset, Mendip and part of Sedgemoor, while Wessex Internet will deliver in rural communities of South Somerset.

Work is due to start next year for completion in 2024. The initiative is being funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Heart of the South West LEP, CDS local authorities, European Regional Development Fund and the Rural Development Programme for England.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman MP, said: “Today’s announcement marks a major step forward in our mission to build back better in the South West, with thousands of homes and businesses set to be linked up to lightning fast gigabit broadband thanks to an £18.4 million investment by the government. With Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet now on board I am confident we will deliver on our ambition for an infrastructure revolution in Devon and Somerset.”

Councillor David Hall, CDS Board Member and Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “We’re pleased to confirm the appointment of three well-established, regionally-based suppliers to help with the challenge of delivering the next phase of the CDS programme. They have significant experience of delivering broadband connections in rural areas of Devon and Somerset, so they have an understanding of the remote areas where CDS is looking to improve connectivity. This investment will deliver full fibre broadband ahead of many other parts of the country.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “These contracts will deliver vital connectivity to a significant number of rural communities across Devon and Somerset helping our businesses and supporting local jobs. Access to services online, home working and staying connected has never been more important, and these investments will provide a much needed boost to our rural and coastal communities”.

Redmond Peel, Founder and Director of Airband, said: “We are thrilled to have won these contracts. As a company, we passionately believe that rural communities should have access to the same level of high-quality connectivity, and therefore opportunities, as those in urban areas. Today’s announcement is a step towards closing the digital divide and delivering industry leading connectivity to those who need it most.”

Evan Wienburg, Truespeed CEO, said: “We are delighted to have won these prestigious contracts with CDS to bring Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to harder to reach communities in the south west. As a Somerset-based business focused on building out our own full fibre infrastructure to areas left behind by the industry giants, we are the natural partner for CDS. The requirement for full fibre broadband is essential as more people study and work from home. Many Truespeed customers are already benefiting from our ultra-reliable, ultra-fast broadband service and we will continue to work as hard and as fast as we can to accelerate our roll out.”

Hector Gibson Fleming, Managing Director of Wessex Internet, said: “This hugely exciting programme will allow us to focus on delivering even more connectivity to rural homes and businesses across South East Somerset. We already have a track record of delivering in this challenging geography and the programme will allow us to accelerate our work while still retaining our collaborative approach. We now look forward to partnering with more farmers and communities across the area to deliver full-fibre connections to even more of the countryside that has been overlooked by the major network providers.”

Karl Tucker, Chair, Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The appointment of the three suppliers to deliver the rollout of full fibre coverage to people and businesses into thousands of rural homes and businesses in the Heart of the South West LEP area is good news. It has never been more vital than it is now to ensure our communities and businesses have access to good connectivity and the three companies all have extensive experience of working in our area. The HotSWLEP is delighted to be supporting this programme through our Growth Deal funding.”

CDS has delivered connectivity to more homes and businesses than any other broadband programme in England.

Nearly one million homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset now have access to superfast broadband thanks to the Government supported CDS programme and stimulation of the commercial market which is an important element of CDS’s role. Of these, over 300,000 homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband as a direct result of public funding.

As part of its Fibre Extension Programme, CDS is currently funding fibre broadband connections to over 6,000 homes and businesses being delivered by Airband. Thanks to the high level of take-up of broadband services in the region from previous connectivity delivered by Openreach, CDS is also re-investing a £6 million dividend to extend full fibre coverage to over 2,000 premises, again working with Openreach, through the Government’s “Gainshare” agreement with the company.

CDS is also working closely with the Government’s Rural Gigabit Voucher programme to support communities who wish to contract with telecoms providers to design bespoke broadband solutions for their communities. To date, over 3,400 premises in Devon and Somerset have been connected to fibre through the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme, with another 2,800 vouchers approved for build over the next 12 months. This represents a voucher investment of nearly £7.4 Million in full fibre across the CDS region.

Investment from CDS can only take place in areas where there are no current or credible future plans to deliver Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband infrastructure capable of download speeds of at least 30Mbps.

The whole Connecting Devon and Somerset programme is expected to deliver an £800 million boost to the regional economy.

For more information go to

Contact Information

Adrian Lane
Senior Media and PR Officer
Devon County Council
01392 383262
Notes to editors

The new CDS contracts are backed by £18.43m from the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, £2.98m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and managed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

An additional £2.15m contribution comes from the Heart of the South West LEP’s Growth Deal with Government.

CDS has delivered connectivity to more premises than any other English programme.
Source: Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, May 2020

• Coverage across the whole area is around 90% at nearly 1 million premises †.
• CDS alone has provided superfast access to over 300,000 homes and businesses
• CDS has provided improved broadband to a further 38,000 homes and businesses
† Total coverage = CDS funded + commercially funded.

CDS also has contracts with Airband which will deliver superfast access to around 23,000 additional homes and businesses in deeply rural areas of northern Devon, Dartmoor and Exmoor by the end of 2020.

The new CDS Fibre Extension Programme will deliver full fibre upgrades or new access to broadband for more than 8,000 homes and businesses across the region by the end of 2021.

In parallel with these initiatives, CDS works closely with Building Digital UK (BDUK) to expand take-up of the Government’s Rural Gigabit Voucher programme. CDS offers support to communities who wish to contract with telecoms providers to design and shape bespoke broadband solutions for their areas. CDS will provide additional financial support where appropriate through its Community Challenge Programme to help bridge any local funding gaps.

To date, over 3,400 premises in Devon and Somerset have been connected to fibre through the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme, with another 2,800 vouchers approved for build over the next 12 months. This represents a voucher investment of nearly £7.4 Million in full fibre across the CDS region.

CDS-funded coverage in deeply rural areas is as high as 82% in some districts

CDS is one of the most cost-effective programmes in England with costs per premise in the lowest quartile nationally. Source: BDUK

Take-up of CDS funded broadband services is nearly 70% compared with a national average of 61.4%, an increase of circa 5% over the last quarter. Source: BDUK

The CDS programme will generate an estimated £800 million boost to the region’s economic productivity. Source: UK Broadband Impact Study, SQW

As pioneers of demand stimulation, CDS has delivered over 800 community take-up events, attended by around 22,000 people. Source: Get Up To Speed Cosmic / SERCO report

About the providers –


Airband, which was founded in 2009, is an independent internet service provider (ISP) bringing high speed broadband to homes, business and industry in rural and hard-to-reach areas.
It is proud to work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, BDUK, local authorities and communities to build high availability infrastructure that residents, businesses and other ISPs can access to help overcome the UK’s digital divide.


Founded in 2014, Bath-based Truespeed was formed to provide gigabit capable full fibre connectivity in hard to reach rural areas and complex and historical cities.
From the outset, the multi award-winning, privately owned infrastructure provider and ISP has offered free ultrafast broadband for life to primary schools and community hubs passed by its network to ensure the whole community benefits from its network investment for generations to come.

Wessex Internet

Wessex Internet is an independent ISP that builds ultrafast full fibre networks to rural communities. Its fibre to the premises network consists of almost 2,000km of fibre across Dorset, South Wiltshire, South Somerset and parts of Hampshire.