Cornwall

Superfast broadband arrives in Cornish villages

Fibre optic cables
Image caption BT has already layed 100 miles of fibre optic cable in Cornwall

Villagers in parts of Cornwall can now surf the internet at the same speed as business leaders in some of the world's financial hotspots.

Chacewater and Blackwater near Truro are thought to be the first rural villages in the UK to get so-called "superfast" broadband.

In September 2010 British Telecom announced it would provide the service to up to 90% of homes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

It is the biggest rural fibre optic roll-out in the UK to date. The final cost is expected to be £132m.

The project, due for completion in 2014, could provide a blueprint for future rural broadband projects.

The telecoms giant will provide £78m in funding, with the European Regional Development Fund contributing around £53m - the largest investment of its kind made by the EU.

One of the places already seeing the benefit of the faster broadband links is the Britannia Hotel in Chacewater.

Robin Mackay, a local businessman from the village, held a business meeting from the Britannia with a colleague in New York via the internet.

Mr Mackay said: "This is the first time we've overtaken the rest of the country. It's quite impressive."

"Business opportunity"

Michael Owen, the landlord of the Britannia Hotel, said: "Village pubs are closing at an alarming rate.

"This is a business opportunity that can't be missed. People will use the hub of the community once again."

BT has already layed more than 100 miles of fibre optic cable which it says will make the service available to 14,000 customers by the end of March.

The arrival of the fast broadband has been welcomed by the business community in Cornwall.

Nigel Ashcroft from the Cornwall Development Company said: "This is the best piece of infrastructure that Cornwall is going to have in the next 20 years.

"We really do need this connectivity. We need to compete in a global economy.

"Our businesses, albeit small and in rural areas, are going to need the best connection to compete for the future."

Within three years up to 90% of Cornwall will have access from fibre optic wires. BT says the remainder of homes and businesses will receive the same service through new satellite and wireless links.

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