BT has unveiled a new £132m project that will ensure every resident in Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly has a broadband connection. The project, which is being run in conjunction with Cornwall Council, will see BT invest £78.5m, with the remaining £53.5m coming from the EU Convergence Fund, which is designed to improve the economies of cities across the European Union.
Under the scheme, between 80 and 90 percent of homes and businesses in Cornwall will be given access to the web via fibre broadband. BT said it would deploy a mixture of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) technology, which offers speeds of 'up to' 100Mbps. Over half of homes and businesses in Cornwall are expected to be given access to FTTP. The remaining residents in Cornwall will be connected to the web using satellite, wireless and other technologies.
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BT CEO Ian Livingston and Leader of Cornwall Council, Alec Robertson launch the scheme on Fistral Beach, Cornwall
BT said it would be laying around 130,000km of fibre cable around the county, which is enough to go around the world three times.
"This is a very significant project that once again positions Cornwall as a broadband leader. It will make the county one of the best connected areas in the world and provide a major boost to its prosperity," said Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT. "This partnership shows what can be achieved when people work with BT. The 'final third' of the UK is undoubtedly challenging to reach with fibre but this project shows it is possible. Our door remains open to others who are keen to work with us to bring fibre broadband to their areas."
Rollout is to begin immediately and run until 2014. BT said it expects the residents to be connected by March 2011. Towns that are in need of economic regeneration will be the first to see the infrastructure installed.
The £78.5m investment is on top of the existing £2.5bn BT pledged to deploy next generation broadband. However, the telecommunication company said the scheme in Cornwall will make up part of its target of ensuring two thirds of the UK have access to fibre broadband by 2015.
BT said the project sets an example to other rural areas, showing what can be achieved through partnering and public funding and urged other rural communities to look to other sources of funding now, rather than waiting for the government to announce how it plans to fund the rollout of next generation broadband across the UK.
"Local businesses will be given an all important head start through early access to world class communications and this will dramatically increase their competitiveness. The high speeds on offer will attract new business investment into Cornwall, creating thousands of new job opportunities," added Alec Robertson, Leader of Cornwall Council.
The telecommunications company also believes its programme will enable the rollout across the country of next generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networks.