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Super-fast broadband arrives in Cornwall

30th March 2011 Print

Super-fast broadband has arrived in Cornwall. The pioneering £132 million super-fast broadband scheme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly announced today that the first 50 Cornish customers had already been connected.

The sophisticated technology is now available to more than 1,000 homes and businesses in the Chiverton Cross and Chacewater areas. And within a few days (by Thursday March 31) super-fast broadband is also expected to have ‘gone live’ in St Agnes, St Day, Portreath, Devoran, Leedstown, Stenalees and Par offering the high-speed service to another 14,000 customers.

They are part of a pilot scheme run in advance of the main roll-out programme, which in its early phases will focus particularly on South East Cornwall.

About six months after the signing of the contract for the scheme, engineers from BT’s local network business Openreach have already installed more than 150 kilometres of optical fibre cable – equivalent to more than the length of Cornwall.

The ambitious Superfast Cornwall initiative, managed by Cornwall Development Company, Cornwall Council’s economic development company, is building a high-speed network available on an equal basis to all firms providing broadband services.

By 2014 the programme, funded by BT and the European Regional Development Fund Convergence programme, is expected to have delivered super-fast fibre broadband to at least 80 per cent of households and businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Up to £53.5 million of the funding is coming from ERDF Convergence, the largest ever single European investment in broadband infrastructure, whilst BT is investing £78.5 million. It is expected to create 4,000 new jobs and protect a further 2,000 and will make Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly one of the best connected locations in the world.

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 will boost the competitiveness of local firms and offer a whole new range 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.

A music track can be downloaded in just two seconds, a whole music album in 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in ten minutes. Upload speeds are the fastest in the UK, allowing large videos and data files to be sent almost instantly and activities, such as uploading hi-res photos to Facebook, to be completed in seconds.

Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using ‘cloud computing’ technology. There will be faster back-up of computer systems and wider use of high quality videoconferencing.

Carolyn Rule, Cornwall Council cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “The Superfast Cornwall programme is certainly living up to its name. We are very pleased with its progress and the fact that this key milestone in the programme has been reached right on schedule. Super-fast broadband is already available to the first customers about six months after the scheme was first announced. It is a great achievement.”

Carleen Kelemen, director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “This significant investment is aimed at placing Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly at the forefront of global digital communication and business. High speed broadband is an essential tool to further our economic ambitions.”

Among the first customers to be connected are the Britannia Hotel, a pub in a 19th century listed building in the centre of the village of Chacewater; and Andy Farnell, a Cornwall Council social worker, who lives in Chacewater.

Michael Owen, who took over the Britannia Hotel with his wife Sheila last year, said super-fast broadband had “transformed” the services offered by the pub.

“Super-fast broadband is fantastic,” he said. “I had high expectations, but it has been even better than I imagined. Downloading of films, for example, takes no time at all and when I send a video it just flies. It really is amazing.

“We are the first super-fast pub in Cornwall and because we offer free wi-fi to our customers, people can experience super-fast broadband first hand while enjoying a pint of real ale. Our customers have been blown away by it.

“More businesspeople are coming in now with laptops. We have a printer on the bar, which customers are welcome to use free of charge. So people can drop in, do their work and print it off while enjoying a drink or a spot of lunch.”

Sheila Owen said the technology was also helping to streamline the Britannia Hotel’s business operations. “Placing orders and paying bills on-line used to take me ages. Now I can carry out tasks that used to take the whole morning in just half an hour. That frees me up to focus on customer service.

“We are consistently getting super-fast speeds of over 38 Mbps for downloads and over 8 Mbps for uploads – these speeds are many times faster than anything we could get before.”

Another Chacewater user of super-fast broadband, social worker Andy Farnell, said: “Super-fast broadband offers a variety of important benefits for myself and my family, both personally and professionally. I can access the on-line health information I need to carry out my job as easily at home as I can at my Redruth office. Flexible working therefore becomes much more viable. It means I can work more efficiently and should be able to reduce my travelling.

“My son, Sam, is the technical expert in the family. He’s a sound engineer and DJ and he particularly likes to download the latest music and films, but most members of the household have laptops and visit sites like Facebook.”

Nigel Ashcroft, programme director of Superfast Cornwall for Cornwall Development Company, said: “The partners of this programme are already working together very well, dealing quickly and effectively with the many technical challenges posed by this huge initiative. The speed of roll-out compares well with anything of a similar nature in the UK or abroad. Typically, you could expect to see the first customers connected about a year or so after the signing of the contract, but we’ve managed it in about six months.”

Ranulf Scarbrough, BT programme director for the Superfast Cornwall programme, said: “Already this scheme is starting to make an important contribution to the success of the Cornwall economy and to the lives of Cornish residents. We have a team of about 50 engineers, contractors, planners and technicians working together to ensure that the project is able to deliver the immense benefits of super-fast broadband to customers in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as soon as possible. The amount of optical fibre cable already installed - more than 150 kilometres - would stretch more than the length of Cornwall.”

While most premises in the eight pilot areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband immediately, a minority will not be able to do so. People not able to benefit initially 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.

Customers can find out more about the programme at Details of the full roll-out programme across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be announced in May.