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Philip Evans


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EAST DEVON: BT must ‘move fast’ to connect rural areas

Thursday, 05 June 2014

BUSINESSES operating from villages around Honiton need high-speed broadband “more than anything” and BT must “move fast” to deliver it, Honiton MP Neil Parish has said. Addressing the town’s traders at a recent breakfast meeting, Mr Parish said the government had been experiencing “real problems” while working with the national telecommunications company to roll-out the fibre-optic service, but insisted they would continue to be pressed. Mr Parish said: “Broadband is proving difficult to get out into the rural villages and we are still going to have some hard-to-reach places – there may not be a fibre-optic solution to the problem in these places. “But this is what businesses need more than anything and it is an issue that needs to be sorted.” The Connecting Devon and Somerset initiative – a multi-million-pound partnership between local councils, BT and the government’s Superfast Britain programme – has been working to bring rural communities up to speed and is targeting 90 per cent of homes and businesses across the two counties to be connected by the end of 2016. More than 75,000 businesses and households in Devon and Somerset have no or very slow access and nine out of 10 businesses across the two counties have said that poor connectivity would threaten their survival and growth. Mr Parish has been campaigning for a rollout of high-speed broadband to rural areas since his election in 2010. He added: “There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get the internet – I am very well aware of it. “We (the government) have put in £60million for Devon and Somerset and we need to know where BT are targeting. “They must tell us what they are doing and why they can or cannot do it in a certain area. They have got to move fast.”

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