Rural businesses in north Devon will reap the benefits of high speed computer connections with the installation of a new wireless broadband network.
The South West of England Development Agency (RDA) is to invest £90,000 in a £120,000 project to install six broadband aerials across the Devon side of Exmoor, in the remote areas around Lynton and Lynmouth, and across the wider countryside areas in north Devon. Each aerial will serve around a 15 mile radius.
The aim is to significantly improve connectivity to the internet via broadband and provide business users with a reliable service. Until now, provision has been unreliable and in some cases there is no service at all, due to the location of towns and villages, cabling issues and the distance from exchanges.
People taking advantage of the new system will need to install receiver dishes on their properties or businesses.
The investment from the RDA has been welcomed by North Devon District Council, which is leading the initiative and will finance the remainder of the investment, together with a contribution from West Somerset District Council.
Increasing innovation and take up of information communication technology is a key objective behind the project and it is hoped it will lead to an increase in the start-up rate for small and medium size businesses.
In 2006, the Devon Renaissance Business Survey and the Lynton and Lynmouth Community Strategic Plan found that the quality of broadband in rural communities was a major barrier to business growth.
North Devon District Council is working towards appointing an operator to carry out the work with a view to the first businesses being connected in the spring.