High-speed broadband drives economic transformation

A major upgrade to the broadband network in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles is coming soon. The project’s main aim is to support small businesses across a region that lags behind others in the UK due to its relative remoteness.

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By 2015, around 40% of businesses in the region will benefit from far faster Internet connections. One quarter of them will be high-growth, high-value businesses – considered vital for this region’s economy and long-term prospects.

Next Generation Broadband

Located in the South West (England) region, the county of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly depend on income generated by tourism and agriculture. Co-funded by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, the Cornwall – Next Generation Broadband project chiefly aims to support the region’s businesses by increasing the speed of Internet connections. Better broadband will of course also benefit other regional institutions and citizens.

The project proposal was submitted in March 2010 and approved three months later. Under the contract, British Telecom will deploy super-fast fibre-based connections (Next Generation Broadband or NGB) to 86% of all business premises in the region. Alternative non-fibre solutions will be used for the remaining premises. BT will also build additional network infrastructure, and configure and offer NGB wholesale services to all communication providers.

The two main architectures are Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) and Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). Around 49% of business premises will benefit from FTTP, which extends to end-users the fibre-optic cable that arrives at the telephone exchange. Around 37% of business premises will have FTTC coverage: this continues the fibre-optic cable from the telephone exchange to the more locally based cabinets, with connections to the end-user provided by the more traditional copper network. Alternative copper-based and wireless technologies will be used for all remaining premises.

One of Europe’s best-connected regions

When the NGB is rolled out in 2015, users can look forward to fast connectivity speeds of up to 100 Mb/second – especially in premises connected to fibre-optic networks. An estimated 10 000 of Cornwall’s 25 000 businesses are expected to benefit from the new network. They include as many as 2 400 high-growth, high-value businesses that will be priority targets for connection and higher speeds.

Others sure to benefit include innovation centres as well as academic and research institutions. Lastly, the new network will attract and retain high-value businesses, bringing wider socio-economic benefits for the region’s wider community.

The project will create some 20 permanent jobs. It should also indirectly lead to around 4 300 permanent employment opportunities.

Draft date

22/09/2010