Superfast Cornwall leaders say high adoption rate justifies ambitious superfast broadband project
A third of all homes and businesses have signed up for superfast broadband services on the Isles of Scilly, just over six months after fibre went live on the archipelago, located 28 miles off the Cornish coast.
The £132 million Superfast Cornwall project, funded by BT, The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cornwall Council, has deployed fibre on all five inhabited islands, with undersea cables linking St Mary’s, Tresco and Bryher, and microwave links connecting St Agnes and St Martins.
However the most ambitious component of the rollout involved the diversion of an unused 939 kilometre undersea fibre cable between to the UK and Spain toward the archipelago.
Scilly adoption rate
The first connections took place in November and now 450 premises are now making use of the faster speeds available to them – an adoption rate which Superfast Cornwall says justifies the ambitious nature of the project.
“This is wonderful news and a great endorsement of the considerable engineering work and investment undertaken to make superfast broadband available to the Isles of Scilly,” said Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director for Cornwall Council. “The people of these beautiful islands have grabbed the huge opportunities offered by superfast broadband with both hands and are really making the most of this exciting technology.”
On St Agnes, 21 out of 24 properties have taken up superfast broadband, including St Agnes Boating, a family-owned ferry operator that claims the faster speeds have revolutionised its business.
“Superfast broadband has allowed us to completely revolutionise the way we run the firm,” said owner John Peacock. “It has speeded up all our processes and breathed fresh energy into the business. For example, it has allowed us to develop a new app we believe is the first of its kind in Europe, which records our passenger numbers.”
Changing the islands
St Agnes Boating lists the latest bookings on its website so other residents can join trips already arranged. The more people who sign up to a crossing, the cheaper the cost of the journey.
Until the arrival of fibre, residents and businesses relied on a phone and Internet service powered by a radio link from the mainland and local leaders claiming the service can revitalise the local economy, enhance residents’ quality of life and change working habits.
“Scilly is now one of the best connected archipelagos in the world. The fast and stable data connection provides a vital link for our residents, businesses and visitors to mainland Britain and the rest of the world,” added Amanda Martin, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly. “It is also an indispensable tool for our 360 businesses, as the islands have the highest rate of self-employment per capita in the UK.
“The very remoteness of Scilly makes it a unique test case for many emerging technologies. The Islands are a pilot site for new telehealth and telecare projects and we are also in advanced discussions to introduce smart grid technologies – all of which is made possible thanks to superfast broadband.”
Superfast Cornwall is aiming to connect 95 percent of the county by the end of 2015.
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