Oxfordshire, England United Kingdom (PressExposure) November 30, 2011 -- The UK's largest Tooway satellite broadband distributor, Toowaydirect, has won a bid to connect 1,050 digitally disadvantaged rural homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset. The scheme uses European funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), matched with private sector investment to connect users using the latest generation satellite technology.
The project, which is being launched across Devon and Somerset today is called Rural Connection and focuses on connecting premises that are the farthest from their local exchange; in short those that stand little chance of being connected via wired broadband in the foreseeable future. Fast broadband internet connectivity is an essential enabling infrastructure. Without it many business, economic, and educational opportunities can't be realised.
Devon and Somerset have a number of rural areas that receive little or no broadband connectivity, so called 'not spots'. Devon and Somerset County Councils have conducted an in depth analysis of connectivity across the counties. This forms the basis of wider investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) connectivity, but in the short term the analysis has led to the targeting of four pilot community clusters.
The four clusters that receive a particularly poor broadband service (less than 2 Mbps) are in areas of North, Mid and East Devon and Wheddon Cross in Exmoor, Somerset. Toowaydirect is launching a Post Code checking service to enable residents and companies in these areas to determine whether they qualify for the free standard installation and hardware.
The grant means that the first 1,050 applicants in specific postcodes in these areas will be provided with the latest generation standard Tooway satellite broadband equipment, and standard installation. The scheme is being run in conjunction with a program of free ICT training and support from Devon based ethical IT Company Cosmic to help first time broadband users and businesses get the best out of their new broadband connection and their PC or MAC.
Toowaydirect is also offering a specially discounted Tooway package with FREE installation for homes and business in Devon and Somerset that don't qualify for the grant, but that want to take advantage of the Tooway service.
The Tooway satellite broadband service offers users' data rates of up to 10.2 Mbps download and 4.1 Mbps upload wherever they are in Europe, and the services support all the usual broadband functions and applications.
Managing Director of Toowaydirect Andrew Walwyn said
"We're truly excited to be involved in this great project which will transform the lives of so many people and businesses. 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.
"The Rural Connection project means that 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, and let them access new work and educational prospects.
"We've set up a dedicated Customer Support team to assist customers getting online and claiming the free standard kit and set-up. They just have to contact us online or by phone on our Rural Connection hotline, and we'll talk them through what they need to do."