Thursday, 30 January 2014

Superfast Broadband

I have always been enthusiastic about the potential for modern fibre optic infrastructure like Superfast Broadband to put Cornwall ahead of the pack and to help overcome some of the geographical challenges we face as a peninsula. Infrastructure today is not just about roads and rail (important though those are), it is also about digital connection. The way that many modern industries like computer software operate means that, if we get the fastest broadband speeds, we are ahead.

Cornwall has so much beauty that many entrepreneurs actually want to set up their business here provided they have the right infrastructure. A couple of months ago I visited Head-Forwards Software which is one of a number of new computer software companies that are bringing new jobs to this part of Cornwall. Evidence suggests that almost 90 percent of the economic benefits of investment in broadband flow to areas outside the South East and the Home Counties. That makes a change and it is why investment in digital infrastructure is one of the best regional policies you can have.

The project to install Superfast Broadband across Cornwall is moving to its final stages. By end of this year they hope to reach their target of 95% of businesses and homes connected. Much progress has been made with over 80% of Cornwall now having access to fibre broadband. This equates to 210,000 premises, 21,000 of which are businesses. By the end of the year, with enough fibre optic cable to circle the globe three times 95% of Cornwall will have access to superfast.

What makes the project even more innovative is that alongside the normal superfast broadband being installed there is a further roll out of an even more advanced system that gives people even greater speeds, known as fibre to the premises or FTTP. Cornwall is now home to half of all the households in the country that have this cutting edge technology which increases internet speeds by up to forty times what we now experience. That's worth repeating: half of all the homes in the UK that have fibre to the premises can be found in Cornwall.

This is really positive news, and whilst I know some people are concerned that their house or business is not yet covered it is reassuring that the vast majority will finally have access by the end of the year. For the last remaining 5% where it is too difficult, the provider is going to make sure they will still see a boost in speeds using alternative methods such as advanced copper wiring or satellite. It is important this is done properly because I want to see every home; even those in the most remote areas see a difference from this investment.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.