Community networks to be part of Devon and Somerset broadband projects

Devon and Somerset county council has issued requests for tenders worth...

Devon and Somerset county councils have issued requests for tenders worth £781,000 to provide fast broadband access to England's rural south-west by 2012.

The councils said some rural areas had no connectivity or less than 2Mbps.

The document calls on local authorities to maximise the re-use of existing infrastructure such as wide area networks (WAN), public sector networks or community-owned networks. These potentially offered a cost-effective solution for carrying data traffic back to the core network, it said.

The councils aim to raise awareness of the economic and social benefits of broadband, especially those that can be shared with any rural community, they say.

Among the benefits were support for "green working" such as in homes local hubs. It will also reduce community isolation and equalise access to services, they say.

Devon County Council says it wants to enable access to the additional capacity, technical capability and geographical coverage that exists in the current physical network infrastructure, without the need to replicate existing networks.

Somerset County Council says it will ask its public service network supplier to start talks to open access to its ducts and poles as part of the "rural broadband project" solution.

"Tenderers are therefore encouraged to take up these opportunities for further direct dialogue with the WAN suppliers to develop innovative solutions to the tender requirements," the document said.

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