Super-fast broadband available at half of Cornish exchanges within 18 months
Early roll-out plan focuses on East Cornwall with communities such as Liskeard, Callington, Gunnislake and Launceston included with St Austell, Truro, Bodmin, Falmouth, Penryn, Camborne and Redruth.
St Austell will have some of the first areas in the UK to get the latest 'fibre to the premises' broadband technology.
Super-fast broadband is expected to be available at half of Cornwall's telephone exchanges by the autumn of next year, it was announced today.
Around 50 of the 100 exchanges in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are due to have been upgraded within 18 months as part of the Superfast Cornwall partnership between BT, the European Union, Cornwall Council and Cornwall Development Company.
The early stages of the roll-out will see a particular emphasis on East Cornwall with Liskeard, Callington, Gunnislake and Launceston among the next 17 exchanges to be upgraded. Also included are St Austell, Bodmin, Truro, Falmouth, Penryn, Camborne and Redruth.
Super-fast broadband is expected to have started to become available at all of the 17 exchanges by the end of March 2012, while a further 26 exchanges2 are due to be upgraded by autumn 2012.
St Austell, which will be upgraded this summer, will also have the distinction of having some of the first areas in the UK to use the latest 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP) super-fast broadband. FTTP, offering the fastest speeds available in the UK of up to 100Mbps, will be available in parts of the town this summer.
Details of the next major steps in the roll-out programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were revealed today at a conference for business leaders held by the Superfast Cornwall partnership at Cornwall's Eden Project.
The announcement follows the success of a pilot scheme which has already made super-fast broadband available to more than 15,000 customers in eight Cornish communities. The new network is available on an equal basis to all firms offering super-fast broadband services.
Up to £53.5 million of the funding for Superfast Cornwall is coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence programme, the largest ever single European investment in broadband infrastructure, with BT investing up to £78.5 million. The scheme is managed by Cornwall Development Company, which is Cornwall Council's economic development firm.
The roll-out is expected to create 4,000 new jobs and to protect a further 2,000 existing jobs and will make Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly one of the best connected places in the world. By the end of 2014 at least 80 per cent of homes and businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are due to have access to super-fast broadband with alternative technologies being used to boost speeds in those locations where super-fast broadband is not currently viable.
Carolyn Rule, cabinet member for Cornwall Council, said: "This is an ambitious and visionary programme that will put Cornwall at the forefront of super-fast broadband connectivity. It will create new opportunities for everyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, giving our businesses a competitive edge as well as opening new doors for people of every age and background. Super-fast broadband has the power to transform every aspect of life in Cornwall, including healthcare, lifelong learning and the way we all work and play."
Sally Davis, chief executive of BT Wholesale, said: "The Superfast Cornwall partnership is setting the standard for rural areas in the UK and across Europe. This is a hugely complex undertaking, but we are rolling-out super-fast broadband at pace and to schedule. Early interest and take-up from homes and businesses across the county has been very encouraging. In the short time since the first communities were upgraded there are already about 700 hundred homes and businesses using and benefiting from super-fast broadband."
Nigel Ashcroft, programme director of Superfast Cornwall for Cornwall Development Company, said: "The scale of the engineering challenge is immense. A broadband infrastructure of this scale and complexity has never previously been tackled in Europe so Cornwall really is at the cutting edge with this programme. Superfast Cornwall is set to put Cornwall on the world map, expanding the horizons of all our businesses as well as acting as a magnet to high value businesses from elsewhere."
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries, said: "The availability of high speed broadband is a key enabler for economic recovery, business efficiency and an inclusive, digital society. These are principles at the heart of this Government's commitment to delivering broadband ambitions. The mix between public and private investment that is delivering the open 'Superfast Cornwall' network is a model that should be encouraged and used as the basis to ensure that everyone, wherever they live or work in the UK, has access to 21st century communications infrastructure and choice of services."
Cornish households and businesses are getting a head start with access to some of the best broadband speeds in the world. The super-fast service is boosting the competitiveness of local firms and offering new ways of flexible working, entertainment and learning opportunities for local residents. Super-fast broadband benefits include users being able to send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently and having the ability to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time.
Carleen Kelemen, director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: "Super-fast broadband is the glue that joins all other Convergence investments together, providing the platform for a high value knowledge based economy."
One of the first Cornish customers connected was Orbiss Ltd of Greenbottom, near Truro, with more than 20 years experience in providing telecommunications and entertainment systems for the hospitality industry. It recently doubled its workforce to 11 and has further expansion plans for the future. Directors Karen McGowan and Karen Patterson will be speaking at the conference
Karen Patterson said: "First class internet and electronic communications are a vital part of our business so the arrival of super-fast broadband could not have come at a better time.
"It is a massive leap forward, helping us to operate more efficiently and effectively and making an important contribution to the service we provide for our customers. To take just one example, we are now using super-fast broadband to distribute the latest movies to our hotel customers around the UK faster than ever before.
"The technology and expertise we have available allows us to operate on a national scale here in Cornwall and compete successfully with very big companies."
While most premises in upgraded areas will be able to access super-fast broadband, a minority will not be able to do so. People not able to benefit will in future receive faster speeds than today through a mixture of technologies expected to include wireless, satellite broadband, advanced copper and a further extension of the fibre network.
Super-fast broadband will be delivered as 'fibre to the cabinet' (FTTC) and 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP). BT recently announced that it expected during 2012 to roughly double the download speeds of FTTC to up to 80Mbps. Upload speeds will also improve with up to 20Mbps being likely.
Customers can find out more about the programme at www.superfastcornwall.org The roll-out is due to run until the end of 2014.