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Vaizey praises high take-up of superfast broadband by Cornish businesses

Wednesday, March 18th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Digital minister Ed Vaizey has praised Cornwall’s superfast broadband project as a survey revealed that four in 10 businesses have already taken up the new high-speed fibre.

A telephone survey conducted on behalf of the Superfast Cornwall partnership contacted more than 2,200 businesses that could access the new network.

It found that 43% were using fibre broadband after signing up to a range of internet service providers.

The results follow previous research published last year suggesting that 52% of Cornish businesses surveyed had been able to grow thanks to fibre broadband, whilst 79% said that fibre had saved them time or money.

As the take-up by businesses was revealed, Mr Vaizey praised the rollout of superfast broadband in Cornwall as a "fantastic achievement”.

He said: "I'm delighted that so many local businesses are making the most of all that high-speed fibre broadband has to offer.

“80% of UK homes and businesses can now get superfast speeds thanks to the Government's rollout and projects like Superfast Cornwall, and it's great to hear how this is transforming Cornish businesses."

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

'Game changer'

It is hoped the £132m initiative will achieve fibre broadband coverage of 95%, and Cornwall Council has recently approved a superfast extension programme that aims to reach those that weren’t included in the current programme and increase speeds further across the county.

The total number of households and businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which have already chosen to take up fibre broadband has now reached more than 60,000 – a quarter of all premises.

Nigel Ashcroft, programme director of Superfast Cornwall for Cornwall Development Company, said: “I’m thrilled to see that the take up by businesses is high.

“The rollout of fibre broadband across Cornwall is a game changer for businesses, it gives them an opportunity to become global players.

“Cornwall has better coverage than some cities in the EU and this research shows that our businesses are truly in the mindset to capitalise on this opportunity.”

Among the businesses to benefit is Continental Underfloor, a Launceston-based heating company which connected to fibre broadband three years ago.

Managing director Chris Ingram said a fast internet connection has allowed the company to deal with its large volume of email and web enquiries each day, and for customers to use its online tool to access quotes.

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT, said the partnership had “set the standard across Europe for the roll-out of fibre broadband”.

He said: “Not only does Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have world-leading coverage of fibre broadband for a rural area, but also we are seeing a great response from local businesses and households, which have been quick to recognise the great opportunities offered by this exciting technology.

“This is a great achievement when you consider that Superfast Cornwall was only first announced in late 2010.”

In November, Mr Scarbrough told Cable.co.uk that upgrading everybody to fibre broadband is the “key to nirvana”.

He said the success of the project was down to the creativity and innovation behind it.

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