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Extra investment in broadband will keep Cornwall among world’s best-connected rural areas

Tuesday, June 16th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A new multi-million pound deal to extend a fibre broadband network in Cornwall will help it stay “one of the best-connected rural areas in the world”, according to the local council.

Cornwall Council has agreed a new £7.6m deal that is hoped to bring superfast broadband access to at least 8,600 more premises across the region by 2018.

So far, more than 60,000 premises in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have taken up fibre broadband – almost a quarter of all premises.

The new project sees the council investing alongside the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme and BT, to extend the fibre network. Match funding is also being provided through the Regional Growth Fund and Growth Deal.

The project will build on the Superfast Cornwall partnership between the European Union, BT and Cornwall Council, which is forecast to deliver fibre broadband access to 95% of premises in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, far beyond the project’s initial 80% target.

89% of premises are expected to be able to access superfast broadband speeds of 24Mpbs and above by 2018.

Councillor Julian German, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for economy and culture, said: “Digital connectivity is essential in addressing Cornwall’s peripherality from national and international markets.

“This new investment will build on the achievements of Superfast Cornwall and enable Cornwall to retain its leadership position as one of the best-connected rural areas in the world, increasing prosperity by bringing benefits to businesses and households.

“We will again be breaking new ground as we deliver fibre broadband into yet more rural areas and will be pushing to bring superfast broadband access to at least 8,600 more Cornish premises across the region by early 2018.”

'Transformational'

The project, which received £2.96m investment from the government’s Superfast Extension Programme, was welcomed by digital minister Ed Vaizey.

He said the additional funding would boost superfast availability in Cornwall as part of the government’s commitment to reach 95% of the UK by 2017.

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, which will invest £1.23m in the new programme, said through its joint investment with the EU and Cornwall Council in Superfast Cornwall, it had already delivered world-leading fibre coverage for a rural area.

He added that the new programme would build on that.

“Our engineers will be overcoming new challenges in rolling out superfast broadband to some of Cornwall’s most remote and rural areas and a detailed planning phase will now commence before the building of the new network gets underway.”

Chris Pomfret, chairman of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, which helped to secure government funding for the project, said: “We’ve seen the transformational potential that access to superfast broadband can bring.

"It is crucial that we continue to increase our fibre broadband capability to enable more Cornish businesses to benefit from access to superfast speeds.”

The project is the first of a two-phased approach that aims to bring superfast broadband access to at least 99% of premises in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

It will be managed by the Cornwall Development Company, the arm’s length economic development company for Cornwall Council.

Earlier this year, Mr Vaizey praised the high take-up of Cornwall’s superfast broadband project as a survey revealed that four in 10 businesses had already taken up fibre.

Superfast Cornwall, a public and private sector partnership between the EU, BT and Cornwall Council, was launched in 2010.

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