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Study Finds BT “Fibre Broadband” Rollout Benefitted Cornwall by GBP186m

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 (1:00 am) - Score 753

New research claims that the first Superfast Cornwall contract, which recently completed and expanded the reach of BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network to 95% of premises in the English county (up from the original target of 80%), has so far delivered a local economic benefit worth £186.1m.

The “independent research“, which was conducted by SERIO at Plymouth University and Buckman Associates (Analysys Mason also conducted a 2015 Benchmarking report), estimates that some 12,104 businesses are now connected to the network and that this has also helped to create 2,000 new jobs and protected 2,500. Furthermore it forecasts that the economic benefit will increase to £250m by June 2016.

Apparently the evaluation was undertaken by using a range of different methods including various surveys, which were conducted with hundreds of local businesses, as well as interviews with the project’s stakeholders. As part of that some 49% of businesses indicated that superfast had helped them to generate new sales or access new markets and, of these, nearly two thirds (62.3%) indicated that these markets were national or international.

Average turnover also rose by an estimated £90,848 per connected business compared to just £20,922 amongst non-connected businesses over the last two financial years. The report also clarifies that its total figure reflects how the programme safeguarded £94.3m, created £30.5m from new business start-ups and £61.3m from established businesses, giving an overall impact of £186.1m. Some other figures from the report can be found below.

superfast cornwall broadband economic benefits 2015

At this point it should be remembered that the project was funded by a commitment of “up to£78.5 million from BT and £53.5 million from Europe (ERDF), although it’s not entirely clear whether this cost has been weighted against the above claims. Similarly the report fails to clarify whether 100% of this funding was actually spent.

Ranulf Scarbrough, BT’s Superfast Cornwall Director, said:

We’re very proud of the work BT has done and will continue to do in Cornwall. The region became a template for us to follow in other rural areas of the UK where connecting people to broadband can be extremely challenging.

Cornwall Council has shown tremendous vision and leadership which, combined with the skill and ingenuity of our engineers, has enabled us to go even further than planned. Today, investing in fibre seems an obvious way to transform a rural economy, but let’s not forget when we started the UK was in the depths of a recession and Superfast Cornwall was blazing a trail for others to follow.

People across Cornwall now have a wide choice of high-speed service providers – a benefit of our open wholesale network – and they can reap the benefits of the fibre broadband technology in both their private and professional lives.”

In terms of coverage, we know that thanks to the increased 95% target the network had reached around 241,000 homes and businesses by the end of March 2015 and more recently hit 258,000 in June 2015 with a take-up figure of 66,537 (just a little bit more than 25% uptake); we note how some areas that were upgraded early in the project are seeing take-up in excess of 40%.

On top of that we recently reported (here) that 85,000 of those premises mentioned above were covered using BTOpenreach’s 330Mbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) lines (BT’s largest single FTTP deployment across the UK), while the rest were done via their slower ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology.

The first contract may have completed, although those who have yet to benefit should note that the Cornwall Council recently signed a new £7.6m contract with BT to make “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) speeds, using the same technology as before, available to 99% of the county within the next few years (here).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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