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Somerset schools to get fibre-optic broadband network

Jenny Williams

Somerset will get high-speed internet access after Southwest One announced it will provide 269 schools with a fibre-optic network upgrade.

"We hope this will be a catalyst that allows significant improvement to Somerset's broadband and communications infrastructure enabling significant opportunities for Somerset's future economic and social growth." said David Huxtable, cabinet member of Somerset County Council.

The fibre roll-out will provide 70,000 pupils in secondary and middle schools with data connection speeds of 100Mbps before the end of next year. This is 10 times today's average speed, said Southwest One.

The network will be built on BT's 21st century next generation national fibre optic network and will provide a platform for school video conferencing and voice teaching applications in the future, said Southwest One.

"We see the upgrade of this network as key for our schools and are excited about the possibilities it opens up for the wider Somerset community," said Fiona Capstick, chief executive of Southwest One.

Southwest One provides back-office services to schools for Somerset County Council, such as procurement and payroll, as part of a partnership between Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Avon & Somerset Police and IBM.

The roll-out will start over the next few weeks and will be completed by mid-2011.

Southwest One was reported last month to have made a £16.5m pre-tax loss. The company was unable to provide monetary details of the broadband network project.


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