BT’s broadband rollout in Cornwall has now reached 82 percent of the county, with over 200,000 homes and businesses able to access superfast services from the firm.
BT has been rolling out services in the county for around two years now after securing major European funding to help boost the region by providing high-speed connections. To date some 35,000 connections are now live, with 4,130 of these with SMBs in the region.
BT said it is still on track to reach 95 percent of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by the end of 2014, with the remaining five percent of premises, around 13,000 buildings, covered by alternative technologies such as 4G or satellite broadband.
BT touted the uptake of fibre by businesses as proof that the rollout was having clear benefits, and it cited new research led by Plymouth University that found 83 percent of SMBs using superfast internet services are seeing clear economic gains as a result.
Six out of the 10 firms surveyed said business was growing as a result of a faster connection, while 26 percent have created or safeguarded jobs.
Cornish firms that have benefited include internet services firm MacAce, with its chief executive Gary Hall singing the praises of the faster connection for growing the firm.
“In the last year, the business has grown from four staff to 12. We are recruiting additional staff now too. Superfast broadband has been a fantastic boost to our business and helped accelerate our rapid expansion,” he said.
Sue Aston, owner of a media and arts business called Genius Loci, said superfast services allowed the use of remote teaching all over the world thanks to tools such as Skype.
“I have students in America, Japan, Italy and even a lady who lives on a boat in the Mediterranean. It is just as effective as a face-to-face teaching session and it has opened up the whole world as a potential market,” she said.
Vice president for the European Commission's Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said the study and the SMB examples proved the benefits of broadband were worth the time and investment required.
“This research has real international significance because it starts to vindicate what we’ve said all along – that fibre broadband will energise our economy, generate jobs and save public money,” she said.
The announcement by BT comes at the same time that EE announced the expansion of 4G services in Cumbria in an effort to boost mobile broadband in the region, with local businesses in the county seeing many benefits from the rollout.
The operator also said it would begin to bring 4G to Cornwall next year as well, with plans for a similar rural rollout on Bodmin Moor, independently of the BT rollout.
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