Superfast Cornwall Fibre Rollout Generates £186m For Economy And 4,500 Jobs

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Independent research praises economic impact of fibre rollout, which has reached 95 percent coverage

The arrival of superfast broadband in Cornwall has generated more than £186.1 million for the local economy an independent report has claimed, with 4,500 jobs either created or safeguarded thanks to the faster speeds afforded by fibre.

The public-private Superfast Cornwall project has now connected 95 percent of the county and the Isles of Scilly, in excess of its original 80 percent target, with 35,000 homes and businesses receiving fibre to the premise (FTTP) services.

In total, 258,000 properties have been connected, with 67,000 taking up superfast services, one of the highest adoption rates in the country. On the Isles of Scilly alone, a third of all homes and businesses have signed up for faster speeds since they arrived on the archipelago.

Economic impact

isles of scilly cornwall broadband © James LePage ShutterstockResearchers at Plymouth University and Buckman Associates asked 12, 000 Cornish companies who have taken up superfast broadband and found that 79 percent cited performance improvements and nearly half have been able to develop new goods and services.

The survey also found connected businesses were able to grow revenues four times faster than non-connected firms, while 49 percent said fibre had helped their business generate new sales and nearly a quarter had secured new trade overseas.

“Superfast Cornwall has done a remarkable job in transforming the digital landscape of the region,” said Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey. “Through the generation of new sales, the opening up of overseas markets and enabling the development of new goods and services, superfast businesses are now seeing, on average, four times more growth than that of non-connected ones.

“Superfast broadband’s role as one of the strongest drivers of growth is clearly evident, which is why Government, together with local authorities, is investing more than £1 billion to take superfast coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.”

Catalyst for growth

Superfast Cornwall is a £132 million joint-initiative between BT, Cornwall County Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which leaders have said has turned the county into one of the best connected rural locations in the world.

“This is great news for the Cornwall economy and it vindicates the brave decision by Cornwall Council over five years ago to invest in partnership with BT and the EU on a superfast broadband project, far ahead of most other areas in Europe,” said Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director.

“We always had faith that faster broadband would be a catalyst for growth, innovation and prosperity – but the scale of the progress we’re making is now both unquestionable and staggering, which shows just what can be achieved through partnership and collaboration. Cornwall is attracting great investment and talent because it has the natural beauty and digital infrastructure to compete with anywhere in the world.”

Ashcroft expressed a desire to connect the final five percent of premises not covered by existing deployments as the project aims for 99 percent superfast coverage.

The government is targeting 95 percent population coverage by the end of 2017 through initiatives like Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), with a view to using alternative technologies to connect the remainder.

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