New Fibre Broadband Network Reaches More Than 80 Per Cent of Cornwall as Research Says it’s Boosting the Local Economy
- 6 out of 10 SMEs growing thanks to faster connections
- 83 per cent saving time and money
- More than a quarter have created or safeguarded jobs
Cornwall’s new fibre broadband network has now passed 206,000 homes and businesses – 82 per cent of the Duchy – making it one of the best connected areas in Britain and the best connected rural region in Europe. Meanwhile new independent research, published today by SERIO at Plymouth University and Buckman Associates1, show that the network is already providing a major economic boost to SMEs in the region.
Early indications from the study – which is the first of its kind to explore the economic impact of fibre broadband on British SMEs – found that after 12 months, 83 per cent of them were saving time and money thanks to the faster speeds and innovative services that fibre broadband enables.
In fact, six out of every ten (58 per cent) SMEs surveyed said their business is growing because of the new technology, whilst more than a quarter (26 per cent) have either created or safeguarded jobs as a direct result of the efficiency and innovation that superfast broadband encourages.
As well as the reported increase in jobs and revenues, over a third of businesses completing the survey (37.5%) reported that superfast broadband had helped their business to generate new sales, with a quarter (24 per cent) of that group pointing to new trade overseas.
Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, said: “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.
“With the help of major investment by the European Regional Development Fund, businesses can now take advantage of fibre broadband in Cornwall to become more competitive and more productive. For both businesses and the communities they serve, there can be no better investment in our future than superfast broadband.”
Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director for the Cornwall Development Company, said: “The economic benefits of the infrastructure investment will grow over time, but we have encouraging early signs that we are moving in the right direction in Cornwall. Given the challenging economic conditions for SMEs, it is great news that businesses are growing, generating new sales and creating jobs for the Cornwall economy.”
Liv Garfield, CEO, Openreach, said: “We’re very proud of the work BT is doing in Cornwall, and in many ways the region has become a perfect template for us in other rural areas of the UK.
“Cornwall Council has shown strong leadership and real commitment to this project. We’ve been able to go even further than originally planned and, thanks to the success and skill of our engineering team, we reached our original target of 80 per cent coverage some 15 months ahead of schedule.
“All of this means homes and businesses across Cornwall are in a position to exploit the speeds that superfast broadband brings and reap the benefits – including a boost to prosperity.”
Adrian Dawson, Head of Projects and Partnerships at Plymouth University, said: “The early indications from the evaluation are that superfast broadband is delivering clear benefits and from our experience of running Cornwall's three innovation centres it is a critical component of the business growth environment. What's important is not just having the infrastructure but knowing how to get the most from it, and we work with a lot of Cornish companies harnessing the power of broadband to drive growth and create jobs."
Gary Hall, CEO of internet services company MacAce, said: “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.”
Sue Aston, owner of media and arts business Genius Loci, said: “Now I run teaching classes over Skype with students from around the globe. 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. I can continue to develop the business internationally, without any additional costs involved.”
Jess Ratty, Communications Manager for KEO digital, the multi award-winning digital marketing team behind RiverCottage.net and crowdfunder.co.uk, said: “The fact that superfast broadband was in Newquay was an important factor in the decision to relocate to Cornwall. We can now run a world class digital business here and all enjoy the benefits of living and working in such a beautiful and inspirational place.”
Alun Morgan, Technical Director for ARCOL, said: “Superfast broadband has allowed us to collaborate with engineers and designers from across the world. I can see the potential to significantly increase our turnover with fibre broadband. At a time when manufacturing industry is in decline, we have recently taken on a new engineer to support this work.”
More than 35,000 homes and businesses are already taking advantage of faster fibre speeds, including an estimated 4,130 SMEs. The Superfast Cornwall project is on-track to get fibre broadband to 95 per cent (originally 80 per cent) of the region, as well as the Isles of Scilly by the end of 2014. The aim is also for the remaining 5 per cent of premises (about 13,000) to gain a boost in speeds using alternative technologies.