There will be a debate on the Rollout of ultrafast broadband in Devon and Somerset in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 11 January at 2.30pm.

A similar debate was held on 2 December 2020: Broadband Rollout: Devon and Somerset.

Current information and background on broadband rollout and funding is provided in these Library briefings:

Broadband rollout

The roll-out of superfast broadband in the UK has primarily been led by private companies such as Openreach and Virgin Media. These private companies decide where to roll out their networks. The Government’s policy is to support the roll-out of superfast broadband to those areas not reached by private investment. To do so, the UK Government has been providing funding to local bodies in England and the devolved Administrations through the superfast broadband programme. The programme is managed by Building Digital UK (BDUK), part of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The Government’s target is for at least 85% of UK premises to have access to gigabit broadband by 2025. It said it will “seek to accelerate roll-out further to get as close to 100% as possible” (HM Treasury, National Infrastructure Strategy, p31).

Gigabit-capable broadband means download speeds of at least 1 gigabit-per-second (1 Gbps or 1000 megabits per second, Mbps). A 1 Gbps download speed would allow a high-definition film to be downloaded in under 1 minute.

Public funding

The Government has promised £5 billion to subsidise the roll-out of gigabit-broadband to the ‘hardest to reach’ premises in the country that will not be reached by private investment (20% of the UK). This is around 5 million premises mostly in rural areas.

The funding programme is called ‘Project Gigabit’ and follows previous programmes that aimed to increase demand for gigabit-broadband and provided vouchers to help connect rural premises.

Broadband coverage

Ofcom data shows that in September 2021, 45.7% of premises in the UK had access to gigabit broadband. You can view detailed data and maps for constituencies, local areas and postcodes on our broadband dashboard.

Gigabit broadband availability in most of Devon and Somerset is lower than average, with only Exeter and East Devon having gigabit availability above the national average. The table below shows constituency level data for Devon and Somerset.

The table also shows data on availability of superfast broadband (speeds of 30 Mbps). Rural Devon constituencies have among the lowest superfast broadband availability in England.

Source: Ofcom Connected Nations 2021

Local delivery

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) is the local body set up to deliver next generation broadband infrastructure to areas where the market has failed to invest.

Devon and Somerset and some other parts of England have ongoing superfast contracts that are still being rolled out.

The CDS website provides information on coverage plans and FAQ pages.

Ultrafast broadband

Ultrafast broadband does not have a single definition. The UK Government define it as download speeds of 100 Mbps and higher, whereas Ofcom define it as download speeds greater than 300 Mbps.

Ultrafast broadband can be delivered by technologies such as cable broadband, G-fast and full-fibre.

Ofcom focused in its latest report (December 2021) on gigabit speeds (and gigabit capable networks). They have removed ultrafast broadband from their main reporting, although the numbers are still available in their interactive reports. According to these:

  • ultrafast broadband (300 Mbps or greater) was available to 63% of UK premises as of September 2021; and
  • 65% of premises had 100 Mbps or greater available.

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