Broadband ImageWell, it’s on it’s way. The Connecting Devon & Somerset (CDS) superfast broadband programme is beginning to roll out across the County and, crucially, parts of the Lydeard Division are set to benefit early. The goal of CDS is to use the secured £94 million investment to transform broadband speeds for businesses and residents ensuring around 90% of premises have access to fibre optic broadband by the end of 2016 with the safety net that a minimum of 2Mbps will be delivered to all premises by the end of 2016.

Bishops Lydeard exchange has been identified for early upgrade and the village itself will start to be eligible for the service before the end of the year. Once the work at the exchange is complete we should then see the roll out of the improved service to other villages and settlements served by the exchange although I am unable to give dates for specific areas at the moment.

On the subject of superfast broadband, I have been amazed to receive approaches from residents in brand new homes in Norton Fitzwarren telling me that they regularly get speeds of less than 1Mbps on their broadband services. How is it possible for developers to construct new homes without installing up-to-date connectivity? The result is that new residents are inevitably disappointed and that the only way we can get the proper infrastructure installed is to load the obligation on to the taxpayer in the form of adding the requirement to schemes like CDS, described above. This is completely unacceptable. A decent broadband service is as important a requirement these days as constructing the road to the houses in question. To leave it out is incredibly short-sighted from a marketing perspective. Many of the growing number of homeworkers will inevitably be put off buying a home without a good broadband service, especially those engaged in tech or media. And why should the taxpayer pick up the tab for something the developers should have provided in the first place?

I’ve been examining why there appears to be no planning policy in Taunton Deane requiring house builders to provide superfast broadband as an integral part of their developments. We all know that Taunton Deane Borough Council is having to identify land for 17,000 new homes in the Borough over the next 15 years. We must make sure that this now essential service is included at the outset. More soon.

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