Several communities in the Burnham-On-Sea area are to be connected to a new ‘ultrafast’ fibre broadband network that will deliver some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK.

They are among 21 areas in Somerset and Devon to be connected in the latest phase of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) broadband rollout.

The local government-led broadband programme has already provided 282,000 homes and businesses with superfast broadband access, and overall a total of 327,000 with improved broadband access.

Work to lay new cables is due to start in November, initially providing almost 9,000 homes and businesses with access to the ultrafast network by February 2018.

The first Somerset communities to benefit from this latest of phase of CDS are: Rooksbridge, Lympsham, Brean, Weare, Crickham, Ashill, Roundham, Merriott, Over Stratton, Dowlish Ford, Isle Abbotts, Corfe, Blagdon Hill, Buckland St Mary, Bradford on Tone, and Wadeford.

They have been selected based on their location near to existing connections to main broadband networks.

Local information and demonstration events will be held in all of the areas where the roll-out has been announced.

Communities not in the initial wave of connection will be kept informed as the programme is updated.

Gigaclear, which will supply the full fibre broadband, has begun pre-construction survey work, building a new full fibre network that will connect direct to homes and businesses with the capability to deliver speeds of up to 1000Mbps.

Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock, said: “We want everyone in the UK to have access to fast and reliable broadband, and the Connecting Devon and Somerset project has already made this a reality for more than 320,000 local properties who would otherwise have been left behind. But we know there’s still more to do, and I’m delighted that our investment will now take gold standard, full fibre broadband, to over 40,000 extra homes and businesses across the region.”

Cllr David Hall, CDS board member and Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, added: “We have already dramatically improved broadband speeds across Somerset and I’m delighted with Gigaclear’s plans to extend this further.”

“It’s great news for homeowners and the Somerset economy as a whole. Broadband connectivity is a vital part of the infrastructure that helps current businesses grow and attracts new entrepreneurs to the county.”

On behalf of the four Somerset district councils in the CDS partnership (Taunton Deane, Sedgemoor, West Somerset and Mendip), Cllr John Williams said: “It is truly an exciting prospect that the majority of our previously ‘too hard to reach’ rural homes, businesses and settlements are now going to be served by a dedicated ‘fibre to the premises’ delivering up to 1,000 mbps.”

“CDS and Gigaclear are to be applauded for securing what has the ability to be a life changing service for our communities. A decent broadband service is now regarded by most as an ‘essential service’ just as water and electricity services are a necessity.”

This latest phase is part of a new £62.25million rollout by CDS, the biggest public-funded broadband programme in England, including a substantial investment by Gigaclear.

By the end of 2019 over 40,000 more homes and businesses in the CDS region will have access to ultrafast broadband in the biggest single investment in fibre connections in the UK.

The CDS programme is supported by funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and local authorities across the region.