British fixed line incumbent BT has announced that it is to roll out its high speed fibre broadband network to Cornwall as a result of funding from the European Union. Under a project costing GBP132 million (USD208.5 million), of which BT will invest GBP78.5 million, with the remainder coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the telco claims that it will create around 4,000 new local jobs, while protecting a further 2,000. Construction of the new infrastructure is to begin immediately, with BT aiming to provide access to fibre-based broadband services to between 80% and 90% of homes and businesses in the region by 2014; the incumbent also said it expected around 50% of properties to have access to fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) services, offering download speeds of up to 100Mbps. The fibre network, BT has said, will be available on an open, wholesale basis to all communications providers, and the first commercial customers are expected to be welcomed on to the infrastructure early next year. Those areas outside of the fibre footprint meanwhile will also see an increase in the available downlink speeds for broadband, with BT noting that it would deploy a range of other technologies, including ‘advanced copper, wireless and satellite broadband’.
Commenting on the development, BT’s CEO Ian Livingston, said: ‘This partnership shows what can be achieved when people work with BT. The ‘final third’ of the UK is undoubtedly challenging to reach with fibre but this project shows it is possible. Our door remains open to others who are keen to work with us to bring fibre broadband to their areas.’ The UK’s communications minister Ed Vaizey meanwhile noted: ‘[This project] shows how the public and private sectors can work together to deliver local solutions to local problems. Households and businesses in this largely rural area can now look forward to having one of the best broadband connections in the world, thanks to Cornwall Council’s vision, European funding and BT’s investment and expertise.’