Isles of Scilly amongst UK leaders for take up of superfast broadband

About a third of households and businesses on isles already using high-speed fibre technology just six months after it arrived

The Isles of Scilly is amongst the leaders in the UK for take up of superfast fibre broadband by local households and businesses, it was announced today.

Latest figures from the Superfast Cornwall partnership reveal that fibre broadband is already being used in about one in three premises on Scilly – just six months after the high-speed technology arrived on the isles. And the number is continuing to grow.

Superfast broadband reached the isles in November last year following the completion of one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in the UK to bring superfast broadband to a remote community. It included diverting part of a 939-kilometre undersea cable between Cornwall and Spain, which had remained unused on the seabed since 2006. All five inhabited islands on Scilly now have access to fibre broadband.

The highest take up in percentage terms is on the island of St Agnes where 21 of the 24 premises are using fibre broadband. Across the five islands about 450 premises are now connected.

The multi million pound Scilly project is part of the £132 million Superfast Cornwall initiative between the European Regional Development Fund, BT and Cornwall Council.

Until superfast broadband arrived, the 2,200 residents of Scilly – located 28 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall – had relied upon a phone and broadband service provided by a radio link between Lands End and the islands.

Nigel Ashcroft MBE, Superfast Cornwall programme director for Cornwall Development Company, the economic development company of Cornwall Council, said: “This is wonderful news and a great endorsement of the considerable engineering work and investment undertaken to make superfast broadband available to the Isles of Scilly. The people of these beautiful islands have grabbed the huge opportunities offered by superfast broadband with both hands and are really making the most of this exciting technology.

“Their fantastic response demonstrates the great significance of this exciting project. Superfast broadband is changing people’s lives for the better, offering new opportunities for businesses and households.”

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT, said: “In percentage terms, the take up of high-speed fibre broadband on the isles of Scilly is already amongst the highest for any local authority area in the UK. This is an astonishing achievement when you consider the relatively short time – just six months - it has been available on Scilly.

“Superfast broadband is providing a major boost for an area famed for its beauty and remoteness. This exciting technology is undoubtedly one of the most important investments undertaken this century for a community in a unique Atlantic location, which relies on its links with the outside world. Whatever the weather or the conditions, local businesses are able to rely on high-speed broadband to work more efficiently and find new customers, whilst households benefit from improved learning and entertainment opportunities.”

Amanda Martin, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: "The Isles of Scilly have benefitted greatly from BT’s pioneering collaboration with the European Union, the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall Council and the government to bring fibre optic broadband to our remote community.

“Scilly is now one of the best connected archipelagos in the world. The fast and stable data connection provides a vital link for our residents, businesses and visitors to mainland Britain and the rest of the world. It is also an indispensable tool for our 360 businesses, as the islands have the highest rate of self-employment per capita in the UK.

"The very remoteness of Scilly makes it a unique test case for many emerging technologies. The Islands are a pilot site for new telehealth and telecare projects and we are also in advanced discussions to introduce smart grid technologies - all of which is made possible thanks to superfast broadband.”

Among the Isles of Scilly companies already benefiting from high-speed fibre broadband is St Agnes Boating, a family run business which provides year round ferry services for the community on St Agnes.

Owner John Peacock said: “Superfast broadband has allowed us to completely revolutionise the way we run the firm. It has speeded up all our processes and breathed fresh energy into the business. For example, it has allowed us to develop a new app we believe is the first of its kind in Europe, which records our passenger numbers.”

The latest bookings are then quickly shown on the company’s website at www.stagnesboating.co.uk so that other people can have the opportunity of joining trips already arranged. The system automatically calculates the price for each person based on the number of passengers with the price for each individual decreasing as more passengers sign up to travel.

For further information

Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660 or Cornwall Development Company on 01209 311104. All news releases can be accessed at: http://www.btplc.com/News.

For further information on the Superfast Cornwall programme visit www.superfastcornwall.org

Further information on the Isles of Scilly cable laying operation
The 12,184 tonne cable ship Resolute cut the cable at two points in the Atlantic - about 100 kilometres and 15 kilometres off Lands End - and diverted a section to the Isles of Scilly. The cable was pulled ashore at Porthcressa Beach on the main island, St Mary’s, during Summer 2014. The cable, which was in very good condition, had been used to carry high-speed international communications for 11 years until it was taken out of service in 2006.

Notes to Editors

Further information about next generation broadband is available from www.bt.com/ngb

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 atwww.cornwalldevelopmentcompany.co.uk