Pioneering broadband project plans
to reach out to Cornwall's remote areas
Cornwall's pioneering broadband initiative actnow will next
week celebrate its first anniversary with the announcement
of plans for a further major extension of the project.
The £12.5 million scheme is preparing to submit a bid
for Objective One funding, which, if successful, will see
broadband being delivered for the first time to some of Cornwall's
most remote areas.
Alternative broadband technologies, such as wireless and
satellite, are likely to be used to provide service to customers
outside the reach of the 13 Cornish exchanges already equipped
with ADSL broadband.
It is estimated that 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses
and 4,000 households would benefit from the £1 million
extension to actnow. More than 100 jobs are expected to be
directly and indirectly created through support and advice
services and helping participating businesses grow.
Nigel Ashcroft, actnow project director, said: "The actnow project has made tremendous progress since it was launched
on April 24 last year. There are now more than 5,000 Cornish
firms and households using broadband, of which nearly 1,600
are businesses. By the date of the anniversary next week we
should have 1,650 broadband business customers and so, in
just one year, we are halfway towards our three year target
of connecting 3,300 small and medium companies. This demonstrates
the willingness of Cornish firms to embrace new technology
as a means of improving their business.
"For some time now we have wanted to extend the reach
of actnow to the more remote areas currently out of range
of exchanges upgraded with ADSL broadband. Businesses in these
areas have told us they would benefit greatly from the availability
of broadband and we're keen to make sure they don't lose out
by making broadband accessible to everyone.
"To reach them, it is likely that a variety of broadband
technologies will need to be deployed. Different areas might
well require different technological solutions. Whichever
technology best meets the needs of a particular area will
"And, of course, it is not just about deploying the
technology. We want to provide businesses with the same level
of support and advice we have been able to offer to companies
currently participating in actnow. That high level of assistance
has been a key factor in the growing success of the project."
A bid for Objective One funding for the project will be submitted
to Government Office South West within the next few weeks
and it is expected, once approval has been granted, that the
project will go live in September. It is hoped that 35 per
cent of the funding will come from Objective One, whilst the
remainder will be shared between the participating partners.
Part of the submission will include a proposal for a Broadband
Rural Business Fund. It would be developed to provide support
for the most imaginative ideas from Cornish businesses in
the use of broadband.
BT, one of the major partners in actnow, today paid tribute
to the "tremendous vision" displayed by the actnow private and public sector partnership and said the growing
success of the project had implications far beyond Cornwall.
Pierre Danon, chief executive officer for BT Retail, said:
"We applaud the actnow partners in putting broadband
at the heart of their economic strategies. They have shown
tremendous vision and demonstrated the real power of organisations
working together in local communities.
"The success of this project is having an impact far
outside Cornwall. With actnow, Cornwall has shown the way
not only for the UK, but also for many other parts of Europe.
The project is making a vital and lasting contribution to
the future prosperity of Cornwall.
"Elsewhere in the UK, many other broadband projects
are being developed very much on the lines of actnow, but
let's never forget that Cornwall did it first."
The actnow project is also supported heavily by the local
business community. Richard Newman, Regional Chairman for
the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The FSB is
recognised as being a key player in the development of the
actnow project and we are delighted with the success to date.
"Our objective of enabling the whole of Cornwall with
broadband remains one of the top priorities for the FSB and
we will be robustly supporting the next phase of actnow delivering
broadband to remote rural areas.
"Through this infrastructure we will ensure businesses
in Cornwall are able to take advantage of the opportunities
provided by new technologies and be able to compete at a global
level in the 21st century."
For further information contact Emma Lydon, actnow on
01209 722850, or Jason Mann, BT on 0845 7262624.
The actnow programme is a demand-led initiative to encourage
businesses in Cornwall to gain the support they need to move
into the new broadband economy. Including about £5.25
million from Objective One, it is one of the largest private
and public sector partnerships in Cornwall and the Isles of
Scilly since the region was granted Objective One status by
the European Union in 2000. Partners include BT, the Objective
One Partnership, Cornwall Enterprise, the South West of England
Regional Development Agency, Cornwall County Council, Business
Link Devon & Cornwall and Cornwall College.
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband transforms
the pair of copper wires between a local telephone exchange
and the customer's telephone socket into a high speed
The 13 Cornish exchanges already equipped with broadband
are: Truro, St Austell, Redruth, Camborne, Newquay, Penzance,
Falmouth, Bodmin, Launceston, St Ives, Saltash, Bude and Penryn.
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel: 01872 241379
Fax: 01872 241388
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