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Satellite broadband services will be used to reduce the digital divide in rural Devon and Somerset, it has been revealed.

Broadband provider Toowaydirect has won a bid to connect 1,050 digitally disadvantaged rural homes and businesses across the counties using satellite services.

Funded by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and private investment, the scheme will see households provided with start-up kit for satellite broadband services.

They will also receive a free installation, enabling them to take advantage of high-speed satellite broadband without the costs associated with a standard set-up.

Premises situated furthest away from their local telephone exchange will qualify for the grant – those which are unlikely to be connected to a wired broadband network anytime soon.

Toowaydirect is launching a broadband speed checking service to establish whether households or businesses fit the criteria.

As well as being located in north, mid or east Devon, or Wheddon Cross in Exmoor, Somerset, they must have access to broadband speeds under 2Mb.

The firm's Managing Director Andrew Walwyn said Toowaydirect was "truly excited" to be involved in such a great project.

He claimed that satellite broadband will transform the lives of many people and businesses across the two counties.

"High-speed broadband has gone from being a nice-to-have utility, to something that's an essential element of living a happy and fulfilled life in the modern world, and being able to maximise work, education and business opportunities," Mr Walwyn stated.

"The Rural Connection project means people can get online with fast broadband now with no more waiting. This will give them immediate access to an amazing range of online services and applications which can enrich their lives, but also save them money."

Toowaydirect satellite broadband customers can access download speeds of up to 10Mb, and uploads of up to 4Mb.

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