Superfast Cornwall To Deliver 95% Fibre Coverage
Savings reinvested to boost target coverage
Ninety five per cent of homes and businesses in Cornwall are set to benefit from fibre broadband under the Superfast Cornwall programme it was announced today. The extension to the programme will see Cornwall become one of the best connected parts of Europe despite its relatively remote location.
Superfast Cornwall, a partnership between the European Union, BT and Cornwall Council which was launched in 2010, is one of the most successful public-private initiatives of its kind in Europe. Using up to £78.5 million from BT and up to £53.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund, the £132 million1 programme’s initial aim was to make fibre broadband available to at least 80 per cent of Cornish homes and businesses by the end of 2014.
The programme has been progressing well with Openreach engineers laying fibre across the county. More than half of Cornish premises already have access to fibre broadband and take up has been stronger than in most parts of the UK with more than 20,000 customers already using fibre services from around 30 communications providers.
BT has achieved efficiencies since the programme began, enabling the company to set the more ambitious coverage target with its partners. Many of these efficiencies have been achieved through innovations that have been pioneered in the county including the use of lightweight overhead fibre cables.
Openreach chief executive Liv Garfield said: “Cornwall was the first English county out of the blocks when it came to fibre broadband. The Council’s strong focus on extensive fibre coverage for Cornwall and the Scilly Isles is generating great results. We have been able to test run some new innovations in the county and as a result we have delivered efficiencies which are now enabling us to go further than we first thought possible. This is a public private partnership that is delivering with the upside of the efficiencies being reinvested in the county.”
Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director for Cornwall Development Company, the economic development company for Cornwall Council, said: “This announcement is a major step forward for Cornwall. It means that tens of thousands more Cornish businesses and households will have access to high-speed fibre broadband than was originally expected.
“Superfast Cornwall was designed to bring maximum benefit to the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, providing a lasting legacy which would boost the local economy for many years to come. The success of the programme shows what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work effectively together. We are not just achieving our ambitions, but finding ways to go even further.”
Creative Industries and Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “It’s fantastic that 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Cornwall are now set to reap the benefits of superfast broadband following today’s announcement. The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and widespread access to superfast broadband will provide a tremendous boost to Cornwall’s local economy.”
Among the Cornish businesses benefiting from fibre broadband is Music Publishing Services, established by Peter West in Camborne in 1981. The firm works with music publishers in many parts of the world including London, New York, Copenhagen and Paris. He said: “Superfast broadband has transformed my whole experience of the internet. Music publishing is an international business and it is critical that I can transfer files efficiently on-line. The ability to provide a fast turnaround means my business has a real competitive edge in this fast moving sector.”
Peter receives handwritten manuscripts from composers and then produces the musical scores and individual parts for each person in the orchestra on his computer. “Delivering my work used to be really cumbersome – the files are often very large - but with superfast broadband it is quick and easy.”
Carolyn Rule, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for economy and regeneration, said “The European Regional Development Fund Convergence programme with BT and the Council is an exemplar of private and public funding, which recognised the need for businesses within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to be at the cutting edge of digital infrastructure. It is fantastic news that Superfast Cornwall is able to extend the fibre footprint so as many businesses as possible will benefit from this opportunity for future economic growth.”
Notes to editors
1The exact amount is dependent on demand for fibre broadband from local businesses and could be lower than £132 million.
About the Convergence Programme
The Superfast Cornwall project is part financed by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Convergence European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/erdf-national-guidance or www.convergencecornwall.com
ERDF Convergence Project Investment: £53.5 million
About Cornwall Development Company
Cornwall Development Company Ltd, the arms length economic development company for Cornwall Council, is managing the Superfast Cornwall programme.
Further information is available at www.cornwalldevelopmentcompany.co.uk
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