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04.02.03      
UK broadband chief applauds Cornwall success

The head of the UK Broadband Task Force was in Cornwall this week to see for himself how Objective One has helped Cornwall become one of the fastest growing rural areas of the UK for broadband use.

Peter Craine, who was appointed head of the UK DTI Broadband Task Force last September, met with local business and public sector leaders to learn about actnow, Cornwall's £12.5 million pioneering broadband project which is supported by £5.25 million of Objective One funding.

actnow has already signed up nearly 3,000 Cornish businesses and households for broadband access since its launch just nine months ago, outstripping most other rural areas of the UK.

With orders now running at about 90 per week, BT last week confirmed that four more Cornish telephone exchanges – at St Ives, Bude, Saltash and Penryn – would be equipped with high speed broadband technology from today (Feb 3). Other Cornish exchanges already enabled include: Truro, St Austell, Redruth, Camborne, Newquay, Penzance, Falmouth, Bodmin and Launceston.

Mr Craine, former Director of Government Relations at GEC and then Marconi, said actnow was a model for extending broadband access to rural areas because it stimulated demand and encouraged the upgrading of local networks.

He said: "Telecoms providers have historically been reluctant to invest in rural areas because of a lack of demand. But actnow, through a public and private partnership, has shown that it is possible to break that vicious circle by stimulating demand and helping local businesses get the most from their broadband connection. The vision and dynamic partnership shown in Cornwall is an example for the rest of the country."

The actnow package for small and medium businesses includes pre and post sign-up advice, a range of computer equipment and broadband connection options to suit the needs of individual businesses, financial support and privileged members' access to the actnow website.

Carleen Kelemen, Objective One Programme Director, who hosted Mr Craine at a broadband business breakfast at the Eden Project today, said: "Objective One has played a key role in developing and delivering actnow, and in just nine months the project has helped Cornwall outperform most other rural areas of the UK for broadband sign-up by around 60%, giving our local businesses the competitive edge they need to compete on the world stage.

"This is what Objective One is all about – creating the infrastructure Cornwall needs to succeed now and far into the future. In proving the demand case it will encourage private sector suppliers to invest in future infrastructures for Cornwall, such as satellite and wireless. We're delighted that Peter has come to Cornwall to see for himself how successful this groundbreaking project has been in helping deliver broadband services to rural areas."

As head of the UK DTI Broadband Task Force, Mr Craine is tasked with helping to deliver the Government's target to make the UK the most competitive and extensive broadband market in the G7 countries by 2005.

Part of his role is to encourage the aggregation of the growing need for broadband in the public sector, such as NHS hospitals, GP clinics, libraries, primary and secondary schools and police forces, to help expand the take-up of broadband across the UK and secure better value for customers.

Further information can be obtained by calling actnow on 01209 722850 or visiting www.actnowcornwall.co.uk.

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Editor's notes:

actnow
The actnow programme, launched on April 24 last year, 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 since Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was granted Objective One status by the European Union in 2000.

Partners include BT, the Objective One Partnership Office, Cornwall Enterprise, Business Link Devon and Cornwall, the South West Regional Development Agency, Cornwall County Council and Cornwall College.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) transforms the pair of copper wires between a local telephone exchange and the customer's telephone socket into a high speed digital line.

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Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel: 01872 241379
Fax: 01872 241388

jason@dclark.co.uk

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