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Devons 12.5m Broadband Project
By: MarkJ - 17 November, 2003 (9:06 AM)

Devon looks set to benefit from a 12.5 million broadband project (Broadband4Devon), which is one of the largest private and public sector partnerships so far and will secure 1,600 jobs:

multi-million pound broadband project will benefit devon economy

A 12.5 million pound project was announced today, which will harness high speed broadband technology to create or safeguard more than 1,600 jobs in Devon.

Broadband4Devon, one of the largest private and public sector partnerships ever seen in the county, will help 5,500 Devon firms benefit fully from the e-business revolution.

The project organisers estimate that more than 600 new jobs will be created, whilst more than 1,000 jobs will be safeguarded. The great majority of new jobs will come from helping small and medium businesses in Devon grow through increased productivity and finding new markets in this country and overseas.

The three year project is funded by 5.5 million from the European Objective Two programme and a further 1.1 million from the South West Regional Development Agency.

The project will:
- assist firms to make best use of all broadband technologies via a range of subsidies, advice and support
- work with communities to extend the provision of broadband services in rural Devon.

Technology partners BT and Chronos will be supporting the project.

Business owners will receive practical advice and guidance on equipment and applications from Business Link Information Technology advisers. This will be focussed on assisting owners and managers to make use of Broadband fast access to the internet to increase profitability and competitiveness.

If the project develops as hoped, a second phase will be launched, which will result in Devon firms outside Objective Two areas also being offered support.

Broadband4Devon, due to begin operating on Monday 17 November, is a partnership between Devon County Council; the South West of England Regional Development Agency; Business Link Devon and Cornwall; BT; Chronos/Bluewire/Zynet; the universities of Exeter and Plymouth; the Further Education Colleges of Plymouth and North Devon; Devon and Cornwall Business Council.

The project was today welcomed by Stephen Timms, E-Commerce Minister. He said: "This scheme is a good example of what can be achieved with a partnership approach. The Government is keen to see as much of the UK as possible gain access to affordable broadband services, particularly in rural areas, and take advantage of the available business opportunities."

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael added: "Broadband opens up a wealth of new opportunities for businesses and individuals, particularly for those in more remote areas. Evidence suggests that areas which have made successful use of the technology act as a catalyst for others, and I very much hope that this dynamic project will inspire others to follow their example."

Pierre Danon, chief executive officer for BT Retail, said: "We applaud the Broadband4Devon partners in putting broadband at the heart of their economic strategies. This multi million pound project will demonstrate the real power of organisations working together in local communities. It will play a major role in helping households and businesses harness the huge benefits offered by broadband and, in so doing, make a vital contribution to the future prosperity of the area. This project is an important part of our ambitious nationwide partnerships programme aimed at extending broadband to more remote areas."

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