According to new independent research, the roll out of superfast broadband across Cornwall has brought £186 million of economic benefits to the Duchy.
The research, published today (July 2) by SERIO at Plymouth University and Buckman Associates, estimates that more than 12,000 Cornish companies are connected to the high-speed network, resulting in 2,000 new jobs being created and a further 2,500 safeguarded.
The programme, which began in 2010, has now reached its goal of making fibre available to 95% of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, outstripping the original aspiration of 80%, and including 30% (85,000) with access to ultrafast fibre to the premises (FTTP).
It has created one of the best-connected rural economies for fibre broadband in the world.
The research involved more than 2,000 separate survey responses and is thought to be the UK’s most advanced piece of research into the economic impact of fibre broadband.
It shows the full success of the programme, with a prediction that by June 2016 – a year after the completion of the first stage roll-out – the impact will increase from £186.1 million to over £250 million.
Of those businesses connected for at least one year, 79% cited performance improvements and nearly half have been able to develop new goods and services.
The study also found that connected businesses demonstrated an average of more than four times more growth in revenues over the same period than non-connected businesses.
Nearly half (49%) reported that superfast broadband had helped their business to generate new sales and almost a quarter (24%) of that group pointed to new trade overseas.
Superfast Cornwall programme director, Nigel Ashcroft MBE, said: “This is great news for the Cornwall economy and it vindicates the brave decision by Cornwall Council over five years ago to invest in partnership with BT and the EU on a superfast broadband project, far ahead of most other areas in Europe.
“We always had faith that faster broadband would be a catalyst for growth, innovation and prosperity – but the scale of the progress we’re making is now both unquestionable and staggering, which shows just what can be achieved through partnership and collaboration.
“Whilst 95% coverage is a remarkable achievement for Cornwall, we have not forgotten about the remaining most rural and hardest to reach 5%, which is why the council recently announced a further project that aims to bring access to superfast broadband to at least 99% of premises in the region.”