Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has highlighted the vital role that superfast broadband is playing in the success of the Cornish economy as latest research today estimated that the high-speed technology had already created or safeguarded at least 1,400 jobs and helped the county’s businesses grow.
About 6,000 Cornish firms are now using fibre optic broadband – and the number is continuing to grow rapidly with more than 200 Cornish firms joining up every month.
The Superfast Cornwall partnership’s latest evaluation report, based on a survey of more than 220 Cornish businesses which have been using fibre broadband for 12 months or longer, estimates that 611 jobs have already been created and 807 safeguarded* (see notes to editors for more details on the calculation of these estimates).
More than half of businesses surveyed (52 per cent) reported that fibre broadband had enabled them to grow, whilst 79 per cent indicated that fibre broadband had saved them time or money and 55 per cent said that the technology had allowed them to work in new and different ways. About half (49 per cent) indicated that it had allowed employees to work more efficiently from home or remotely.
Mr Vaizey, who paid a fact finding visit to the Superfast Cornwall partnership, said he was impressed by the number of firms joining the ‘superfast broadband revolution’ and the innovative ways they were using the technology to find new customers, expand and boost competitiveness.
“Superfast broadband is a key part of the present and future success of Cornwall and the UK as a whole,” he said. This exciting technology is essential to modern business life whether you are a high-tech startup or an established family firm in an industry, such as tourism or manufacturing – and it will become even more essential in the increasingly ‘connected world’ of the future. It is heartening to see the way Cornish firms are embracing the new technology, finding ways to make it work effectively for them and creating jobs. They are sending the message loud and clear that Cornwall is very much open for new business.”
Among the expanding local businesses Mr Vaizey met were PBWC Architects, of St Ives, which won the Best Use of Superfast Broadband category at this year’s Cornwall Business Awards. The company, which currently employs 16 people, is using fibre broadband for a variety of reasons including video conferencing, cloud computing, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) telephony and sending and receiving large amounts of data.
Director Rachael Gaunt said: “Superfast fibre broadband has been fantastic for our business. It has allowed us to become industry leaders and develop new markets, leading to increased profitability and new jobs. We are actively recruiting an additional two members of staff as a direct result of fibre broadband and new technology.”
Superfast Cornwall, a pioneering initiative between the EU, Cornwall Council and BT, became the first superfast broadband partnership of its kind in England, Scotland and Wales when it was launched more than three years ago. Fibre broadband coverage in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is expected to reach 95 per cent by the end of the year.
Nigel Ashcroft (MBE), Superfast Cornwall programme director for Cornwall Development Company, the economic development company of Cornwall Council, said: “The latest research shows very clearly the great benefits that superfast broadband is bringing to Cornwall, particularly when you bear in mind this has been achieved during the difficult economic conditions of recent times. In fact, we believe that the number of jobs created or safeguarded could be much higher than even this survey indicates because the estimate is based on the number of businesses which have been using fibre broadband for at least 12 months, whereas more than twice this number of firms are now using the service.
“The technology is providing an important and lasting boost to the Cornish business community, helping them find new opportunities and ways of working. Business support and advice is a key part of the Superfast Cornwall programme. The partnership has been careful to develop a programme, which not only creates a network that will stand Cornwall in good stead for many years to come, but also ensures local firms and households are able to take full advantage.”
Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT, said: “Cornwall has long been known for innovation and its forward-thinking approach is, once again, very apparent with the roll-out of fibre optic broadband. Superfast Cornwall has already put in place a fibre broadband network able to serve 90 per cent of homes and businesses – which is better coverage than most European cities – and Cornish businesses have been quick to take advantage.
“They are using the great benefits of superfast broadband to offer their products and services far and wide. Cornwall might be a county in the far South West of England, but it is very much at the forefront of the UK’s superfast broadband revolution.”