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Community Project Connects Dozens to Ultrafast Broadband for Very First Time

10 January 2023

Computer wifi broadband

A community in West Devon is experiencing ultrafast broadband for the first time, with help from West Devon Borough Council, after the public raised tens of thousands of pounds.

The residents of Sydenham Damerel have secured funding over £174,000 in a broadband voucher scheme, which has paid for a full fibre network in this area, connecting 137 homes and businesses to ultrafast internet for the very first time. 84 residents and businesses have already been successfully connected to the network.

This has provided residents with the fastest and most reliable broadband available, at no cost to themselves or the Borough Council. The project has been led by a forward thinking and incredibly self-motivated volunteer community team, with West Devon Borough Council's support to underwrite and sign the contract. The volunteer team was made up of Peter Hurdwell, John Hearn, Richard Windemer, David Cullen and Russell Rose.

Rural communities often struggle to access decent broadband, preventing access to so many important services. This project was only possible from the time and dedication of a small team who galvanised their community to secure the funding and get the fibre delivered.

Ultrafast Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is now available to every household within the project area. It means residents working at home finally have a stable connection, while other everyday things like watching streaming services are now possible too.

Cllr Paul Vachon, Lead Member for Communities, said: "It is great to see the success of such a wonderful volunteer team, whose hard work has gone to benefit every household in Sydenham Damerel.

"We are delighted to have been a part of this project in supporting our residents and local businesses to improve broadband and boost digital connectivity. It is especially important since the pandemic to ensure that businesses can continue to operate and employees are able to effectively work remotely."

To further support other communities who would like to follow Sydenham Damerel's example, the Council has an in-house Digital Connectivity Specialist. Their role is to improve digital connectivity and broadband coverage, while engaging with communities and securing grant funding for superfast infrastructure.  

Sydenham Damerel's Team Lead, Peter Hurdwell, said: "Who would dare to have believed at the beginning of 2020 that we would manage to move our small rural community from the 5% of the country with the poorest internet service to the top 20% with ultrafast Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband available to every household?

"There were a few challenges along the way - not least of which being a worldwide pandemic - but our small team, with the engagement of the whole community and with unwavering support from West Devon Borough Council, finally achieved its target earlier this month. Mission accomplished."

Local resident and business owner, Robert Horsford, said:"The installation of high speed internet to my home and home office at Townlake is a huge improvement in communication functionality.

"Video conferencing now streams without delay and the sending and receiving of large data files has improved efficiency, speed and the reliable delivery of my work to clients. Consequently it has reduced the amount of car travel necessary and therefore delivers environmental benefits and cost reductions from which we all benefit. This has been an excellent project which already delivers tangible benefits and will continue to so do for many years."

If you are a community representative, who is interested in finding out more about broadband fibre opportunities in your area, please email:

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