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Wells to become UK’s next gigabit city

Medieval Somerset city hopes to encourage business growth and attract new employers by going gigabit

In the latest expansion of the UK’s full-fibre infrastructure into non-metropolitan areas, ISP Truespeed has announced plans to extend its fibre network into the city centre and surrounding areas of Wells, Somerset.

The deployment will bring gigabit-capable, full-fibre connectivity to what has so far been a challenging location for a full-fibre roll-out given the medieval city’s narrow roads and historic buildings. The targeted areas for the full-fibre network cover about 6,000 residential properties and 1,000 registered businesses.

“Wells will benefit enormously from a full-fibre offering,” said Robert Powell, chairman of Wells Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. “Connectivity here is currently very poor, which is having a detrimental impact on local business. We have lots of sole traders and homeworkers who urgently need fast, reliable connectivity. Being a gigabit city will encourage business growth and also help to attract new employers to the area.”

Truespeed’s deployment methods for rural communities include connecting fibre cables to existing ducting and poles used for telephone and power lines, minimising disruption to local residents and businesses, and meeting the council’s requirement to protect Wells’ heritage. The company currently guarantees network speeds of 200Mbps to all residential customers and 1Gbps to businesses, with the promise of 10Gbps for any business that needs it.

Truespeed CEO Evan Wienburg said: “We are focused on bringing hard-to-connect parts of the South West into the digital fast lane – and that includes heritage cities like Wells. People are important to us and working with them in their communities is at the core of how we operate. Making Wells a gigabit city is exciting and will transform the lives of thousands of people living and working in the area for generations to come.”

Areas such as Wells have been at the forefront of the huge political debate about national connectivity development in the UK. An October survey conducted by Truespeed painted a bleak picture for local Somerset businesses caused by the lack of high-speed connectivity. Half of the respondents said their poor internet connections were already restricting their businesses and almost 10% said they had no broadband coverage at all.

Stephen Henagulph, chief executive of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said the survey pointed to the county’s business growth prospects being hindered considerably unless there was an urgent increase in ultrafast broadband network investment.

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