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Broadband Champions Step Up to Support Communities

7 January 2022

Multiple strands of cable - purple with glowing luminescent orange lights - like data passing through

A series of broadband webinars held by South Hams District Council to coach volunteers in how to support their local communities has been a resounding success. Although the region will receive a large rollout of fibre to most homes and businesses, the more rural areas and communities may find it difficult to get connections due to their locations.

From across the District, 85 community champions have volunteered their time to support the broadband initiative. They will work alongside the Council to help identify issues and help their community improve their digital connectivity.

There is a wide range of broadband options on offer from numerous suppliers. However, connection in some rural areas is challenging and understanding what is available, suitable for your needs and how to access it is not always easy to understand.

To overcome this, the District Council has bid for unique funding through a government grant to support communities through the obstacles. They have employed a Community Digital Specialist for two years. The Specialist's role will be to improve digital connectivity and broadband coverage across the South Hams.

Led by the Council's Community Digital Specialist, the webinars had 30 volunteers in attendance, along with representatives from town and parish councils and elected District councillors.

Along with Connecting Devon and Somerset, a number of broadband providers were also at the informative session to answer questions, in attendance were representatives from; Airband, Skylight Broadband and RadioFibre.

The live webinars are just one way the Council is supporting the communities. The Digital Specialist will also engage with communities and aim to secure grant funding for ultrafast infrastructure.  

South Hams District Council's Leader, Cllr Judy Pearce, said: "It's really important that all of our communities have the same access to broadband whether they are in a busy town or a rural hamlet, they should not be disadvantaged because of where they choose to live. I'd like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the champions who are offering to volunteer their time to support their communities in getting better connectivity."

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said: "Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) is working hard to provide broadband access. They aim to connect as many homes and businesses as possible in rural and hard to reach areas. These areas are not always covered by commercial providers. CDS has already helped provide broadband access to more than 300,000 homes and businesses in the region - that's more than any other broadband programme in the country.  We know there's a huge appetite across the region for faster broadband speeds, and it's encouraging to see that interest reflected in West Devon and the South Hams through the support of their volunteer champions. We're already working closely with South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council and will continue to do so throughout our current fibre rollout."

To find out what options you have to improve your broadband, contact your local broadband champion. You can find out who that is here:

If there is not a champion listed in your area, you can ask your Parish council how they can help.

If you are interested in becoming a broadband champion, please email: communitybroadband@swdevon.gov.uk

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