Government Minister praises pioneering partnership as new survey reveals huge take up of superfast broadband by Cornish businesses

Four out of ten firms estimated to be already using the high-speed fibre technology 

Government Minister Ed Vaizey today praised the “fantastic achievement” of Superfast Cornwall as a new survey revealed a massive take up of high-speed fibre broadband by Cornish businesses.
More than four out of ten firms in the county which could get the high-speed technology are estimated to already be using it – and the number of new customers is continuing to grow strongly.

The findings come from an independent telephone survey conducted on behalf of the Superfast Cornwall partnership, which contacted more than 2,200 businesses with access to the new fibre network. It showed that 43 per cent of the businesses surveyed were using fibre broadband from a range of internet service providers*.

The telephone survey follows previous independent research published last year, which indicated that more than half of Cornish businesses surveyed (52 per cent) had been able to grow as a result of fibre broadband, whilst 79 per cent indicated that fibre broadband had saved them time or money and 55 per cent said the technology had allowed them to work in new and different ways. About half (49 per cent) indicated that it had allowed employees to work more efficiently from home or remotely.**

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "The rollout of superfast broadband in Cornwall has been a fantastic achievement and I'm delighted that so many local businesses are making the most of all that high-speed fibre broadband has to offer. Eighty per cent of UK homes and businesses can now get superfast speeds thanks to the Government's rollout and projects like Superfast Cornwall, and it's great to hear how this is transforming Cornish businesses."

Nigel Ashcroft, programme director of Superfast Cornwall for Cornwall Development Company, which manages the £132 million initiative, said: “I’m thrilled to see that the take up by businesses is high. The roll out of fibre broadband across Cornwall is a game changer for businesses, it gives them an opportunity to become global players. Cornwall has better coverage than some cities in the EU and this research shows that our businesses are truly in the mind-set to capitalise on this opportunity.”

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT, said: “The Superfast Cornwall partnership has set the standard across Europe for the roll-out of fibre broadband. Not only does Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have world-leading coverage of fibre broadband for a rural area, but also we are seeing a great response from local businesses and households, which have been quick to recognise the great opportunities offered by this exciting technology. This is a great achievement when you consider that Superfast Cornwall was only first announced in late 2010.”

Among the local businesses to benefit is Continental Underfloor, a Launceston-based heating company, which has seen major benefits since it first connected to fibre broadband three years ago.

Chris Ingram, managing director of Continental Underfloor, said: “As the UK’s largest supplier of underfloor heating to the trade, we deal with a large volume of email and web enquiries each day. Many of our customers use our online tool to access a comprehensive quote for their job in a matter of minutes. We use a virtual private network (VPN) for remote working and to communicate with our various offices via our video wall. All of this is possible because we have a fast internet connection. Superfast broadband has really helped us to stay ahead of many of our competitors and without it I don’t believe we would have seen the growth that we have seen in the business in the last few years.”

Superfast Cornwall, the pioneering public and private sector partnership between the EU, BT and Cornwall Council, is now carrying out final works to the programme in order to achieve fibre broadband coverage of 95 per cent. It was the first partnership of its kind in England when it was launched in 2010. Cornwall Council has recently approved a superfast extension programme that aims to reach those that weren’t included in the current programme and increase speeds further across the County.

The total number of households and businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which have already chosen to take up fibre broadband has now reached more than 60,000. This represents nearly one quarter of all premises.

For more information contact:

Mandy Feldon, Marketing Manager, Superfast Cornwall
mandy@superfastcornwall.org 01209 311104 or 07896 436732
Jason Mann, of the BT Regional Press Office, on 0800 085 0660 or jason.h.mann@bt.com

Notes to editors

*The survey was conducted by independent agency Link Telemarketing of Plymouth. In total, 2264 businesses in Cornwall, which can already connect to fibre broadband, were called. They were contacted by phone between October 2014 and February 2015.
**The Superfast Cornwall Evaluation Update Report April 2014 was completed by SERIO at Plymouth University in collaboration with Buckman Associates. The survey fieldwork was conducted by Marketing Means. Both SERIO and Marketing Means were commissioned by Cornwall Development Company to carry out this work. SERIO and Buckman Associates independently analysed the survey data that is presented in the Update Report.
224 businesses which have been connected to fibre optic broadband for 12 months or longer were surveyed. Of these, 21 per cent attributed either a created or safeguarded job to superfast broadband. The jobs figures obtained from the survey sample have been grossed up to the total number of businesses using fibre broadband for at least 12 months (2,656 businesses).

About the Convergence Programme:

The Superfast Cornwall programme is part financed by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Convergence European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.gov.uk/browse/business/funding-debt/european-regional-development-funding

Project Investment:

ERDF Convergence investment: Up to £53.5 million
BT Investment: Up to £78.5 million
TOTAL: Up to £132 million
For more information visit www.erdfconvergence.org.uk

About Cornwall Development Company

Cornwall Development Company Ltd is the arms length economic development company for Cornwall Council. Further information is available at www.cornwalldevelopmentcompany.co.uk