BT has completed the rollout of fibre broadband to 95 percent of premises in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The milestone comes five years after BT signed a £132m deal with Cornwall County Council and the European Union to deliver broadband across the region.
The original plan was for 80 percent coverage, but BT has been able to go far beyond this and has now confirmed that it has reached 95 percent of premises, having been at 93 percent last November.
BT also revealed that 30 percent of connections have access to fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) connections that offer ‘ultrafast’ speeds.
Some of these deployments have been achieved by running fibre from telegraph poles directly into homes and BT estimates that 40 percent of all UK FTTP connections are now found in Cornwall.
Some 12,000 businesses have signed up to superfast services so far, and BT cited research by Plymouth University and Buckman Associates saying that this has created 2,000 new jobs and safeguarded a further 2,500.
One Cornish business that has benefited from the arrival of fibre broadband is Natural Generation in Perranporth, which installs and maintains wind turbines and solar panel developments, as managing director Ivor Thomson explained.
“Since the arrival of fibre broadband, Natural Generation’s turnover has grown from £2.5m to become a £10m business, and we have expanded our team,” he said.
“Having superfast has helped us to reach out to new customers across the UK and internationally, and extend our portfolio range and services to customers. We are now perceived as a major player in a very competitive market. Superfast broadband has made a huge impact on our business."
BT also said that some 55,000 homes are now connected to services, and that there are a staggering 60 different internet service providers operating in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly using the infrastructure.
Going the distance
Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director, described the project as a huge success.
“This is great news for the Cornwall economy and it vindicates the brave decision by Cornwall Council over five years ago to invest in a partnership with BT and the EU on a superfast broadband project, far ahead of most other areas in Europe," he said.
“Whilst 95 percent coverage is a remarkable achievement for Cornwall, we have not forgotten about the remaining most rural and hardest to reach five percent, which is why the council recently announced a further project that aims to bring access to superfast broadband to at least 99 percent of premises in the region.”
As part of an effort to achieve this 99 percent coverage, Cornwall Council recently agreed a £7.6m deal with the government and BT to continue the rollout work that will add another 8,600 premises to the superfast network.
Further budgets for future deployments are still to be decided.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey described the success of Cornwall as proof that investing in broadband is hugely beneficial.
"Superfast Cornwall has done a remarkable job in transforming the digital landscape of the region," he said.
“Superfast broadband's role as one of the strongest drivers of growth is clearly evident, which is why the government, together with local authorities, is investing more than £1bn to take superfast coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017."
The rollout of broadband across the regions has seen BT engage in some notable projects to deliver services, as V3 witnessed last year when it saw fibre services come ashore on the Isles of Scilly for the first time.
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