More than 3,000 homes in south Somerset are set to miss out on superfast broadband availability, even if a scheme to extend coverage in the area meets its targets, a new report has warned.
The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) initiative aims to bring superfast capabilities to parts of the region that would have been ignored by commercial providers as not viable. It is currently in its second phase, which looks to ensure that 95 per cent of residents have access to speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2020.
However, Somerset Live reports that even if the project runs on time and on budget, some parts of the county will remain unconnected.
This is the warning of a report into the scheme presented last week to South Somerset District Council.
In it, Peter Paddon, the council's lead specialist in the economy, wrote: "Superfast coverage in south Somerset has now reached 85 per cent of all premises (as of 2018), with planned coverage likely to increase connectivity to around 96 per cent by 2020.
"This is still likely to leave approximately 3,600 premises (including many rural businesses) unconnected."
Councillors expressed their concern over the projections, with Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, portfolio holder for the environment and economic development, saying it is "incredibly frustrating" that there is still a lack of clarity about when superfast broadband will be available.
One proposed solution was for the council to establish its own voucher scheme, which would offer local residents and businesses in rural areas discounts for installing fibre broadband directly to their premises.
However, Mr Paddon explained this is not an option due to rules over 'state aid', and CDS and the government already have similar voucher schemes in place.
The council therefore, agreed to work with CDS in order to clarify the status of existing voucher schemes and determine how they can be effectively promoted to residents.