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The economic future of Devon and Somerset may hinge on a joint bid for broadband funding, a County Councillor has claimed.

David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Somerset County Council, said the £40 million funding application – launched alongside Devon County Council - is vital to the south-west's growth plans.

He claimed that infrastructure investment is badly needed to bring local companies into the digital age, particularly those based in the countryside.

"Businesses have told us that a slow or lack of internet is a real constraint on their growth and is a key barrier for companies deciding to invest in the region," Mr Hall stated.

"Unless the county council steps in, about 47 per cent of premises in Somerset will not receive super-fast broadband from commercial suppliers."

He commented that this will leave businesses trailing behind urban competitors and make it difficult for them to operate effectively.

"With possible download speeds of up to 30 times quicker, [fibre broadband] will revolutionise the way we all access work or services."

Broadband Delivery UK is currently in the process of allocating the first £50 million of funding from its £530 million government-funded pot.

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