MORE communities in Somerset will soon be able to access ultrafast broadband as part of a £31.5 MILLION boost.

People living and working in 20 communities across the South West are due to be upgraded following broadband firm Openreach's latest build announcement, with a new, ultrafast, ultra-reliable ‘full fibre’ broadband network being built to a number of rural towns and villages.

In Somerset, the latest rollout will see Chilton Polden, Washford, North Curry and Ashcott added to the ultrafast network.

The news comes as the digital network provider announces it has reached more than 6 million homes and businesses across the UK with ultrafast Full Fibre, more than 540,000 of them in the South West.

The plans are a further boost for the region as they follow news earlier this year that an additional 720,000 homes and businesses in the South West would be getting access to Openreach’s new network, including 440,000 in rural and harder to serve areas.

Connie Dixon, Openreach’s regional director for the South West, said: “Good connectivity is vital – whether it’s to work from home, access education and care services, or for gaming and streaming entertainment – and that’s why we’re investing across the UK to upgrade our network to 25 million premises.

Somerset County Gazette: Openreach

“Nobody’s building faster, further or to a higher standard than Openreach, and we’ve already reached six million homes and businesses with ultrafast full fibre technology, including around 540,000 in the South West.

"It’s proving popular as well, with nearly 30% of the population already choosing to start using it.

“Our engineers and build partners are reaching more communities every week and we’re not just building in cities and urban areas. Many rural and hard to reach communities are already benefitting and we plan to reach many more in the coming months and years.”

Across the UK, 1.3 million homes and businesses have already ordered a Full Fibre service from a range of retail service providers using the Openreach network. But this means 4.7 million more are yet to start benefitting from some of the fastest, most reliable broadband connections in the world and have yet to upgrade.

Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) highlighted the clear economic benefits of connecting everyone in the South West to Full Fibre. It estimated this would create a £4.3 billion boost to the local economy.

Openreach engineers have been working hard to make the technology available to as many people as possible throughout the UK – at times reaching 47,000 premises a week – and work will continue between now and 2026, with the full list of locations and timescales being updated regularly on the Openreach website.

The company’s plans are fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable’ broadband to 85 per cent of UK by 2025.

Openreach plans to reach a total of 25 million premises by the end of December 2026, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country defined by industry regulator Ofcom.