HOUSEHOLDS and businesses in Exeter are set to benefit from the latest round of investment in faster broadband.
BT has announced a further expansion of high-speed fibre broadband to another 11,700 homes and businesses in Devon. The extra investment is being made in communities already included in the company's £2.5bn commercial roll-out of fibre broadband.
Openreach, BT's local network business, will carry out the work between now and the end of spring 2014, subject to planning and technical constraints. Most of the additional work will take place in Exeter, with communities including Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot and Tiverton also benefiting.
This expansion will boost the total number of premises with access to fibre broadband in Devon to around 310,000 and to more than 40,000 in Exeter.
Around 225,000 in the county are already able to get the service, and BT is working with public sector partners in the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme to expand coverage further.
Jon Reynolds, BT South West regional director, said: "This is an exciting time for the digital future of the South West with widespread availability of fibre broadband services fast becoming a reality for thousands of local homes.
"With this further fibre broadband investment in the region we hope even more local people will soon experience the difference for themselves – by joining more than 1.7 million UK homes and businesses already using the technology."
It comes after businesses in Exeter have voiced frustration at the current state of broadband provision in the city.
Exeter Chamber of Commerce recently backed a call for employers to speak out about the issue in order to prove the demand for better connectivity.
A survey was launched by Alastair Banks, director of online marketing company Optix Solutions, who argues slow internet access is undermining the city's competitiveness. He said: "There must be hundreds of businesses in Exeter hobbling around on speeds of 2-4Mbps, nothing in this day and age. It's holding us back from competing against other cities."
Martin Humphries, director of Plantabox, has said: "We are a flourishing, growing and rapidly expanding e-commerce business in the middle of Matford and our connection speed is 1.6Mbps on a good day with no visibility of any improvement. Often it is way below that speed. Our future, our growth, our development, our competitiveness relies on automation and transfer of digital data."
According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK residential broadband download speed is 14.7Mbps.
The type of fibre broadband being rolled out most widely currently delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.