(I received this briefing today, so I thought I would share it with you all)
Background – the actnow project (2002-2008)
The award winning actnow
project was the UK
’s first broadband partnership, set up in Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly between the public and private sectors, and funded with EU Objective One funds matched with BT private sector and UK
public sector investment. It had stunning success, far exceeding its original targets, and helping over 10,000 small and medium sized businesses to make the most of first generation broadband technology by working more productively and expanding into new markets.
The economic impact is clear, with over 4,000 jobs secured and an annual impact on the peninsula’s GDP exceeding £100m.
EU Convergence Funding
When Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly qualified for EU Convergence Funding for the 2007-2013 period, the challenge from the EU was to make investments that would truly transform the economic landscape, enabling Cornwall’s business base to change from a reliance on older low earning sectors like agriculture and tourism, to a more knowledge based, high value added economy.
’s businesses had seized the opportunities of first generation broadband, and in many cases pushed it to the limit. The Cornwall Economic Forum grasped the opportunity to promote a significant investment in Cornwall
’s digital infrastructure, and this helped ensure its inclusion in the new Operational Programme.
Next Generation Broadband (NGB)
The Next Generation Broadband investment represents the single largest and most transformational ERDF investment that the Convergence programme will make. It contributes towards the programme’s operational objectives by providing the platform for economic transformation to a more knowledge based, high value added, lower carbon economy. The project links together and adds value to virtually all other investments in the programme, including, place based regeneration activity, innovation centres and the Combined Universities in Cornwall
Convergence ERDF funds will be used to gap fund the selected private sector investor, British Telecom (BT). The infrastructure will be built, owned and operated by BT. There will be an obligation to ensure open access to wholesale services by all service providers. BT intends to invest £132.5 million if a £53.5 million grant is awarded. The project is not reliant on UK
public sector matched funding.
The investment will deliver the following Operational Programme results:
- 10,000 businesses using new infrastructure
- 6,000 businesses with improved performance (GVA)
- 4,000 jobs created and 2,000 jobs safeguarded
A Business Focussed Investment
The primary purpose of this project is to ensure that targeted high growth, high value businesses, including start-ups, those with potential to develop, and inward investors, have access to NGB services. The number of targeted businesses will be maximised by ensuring early deployment to business parks and other areas of Convergence activity, providing fibre connectivity with up to 100Mb/s capability. High value businesses will be prioritised for connection within the rollout plan wherever possible and will be selected for higher speed solutions where this is achievable.
Demand stimulation activities will be an integral part of the project, driving businesses take up and highlighting new opportunities enabled by world class connectivity. The project aims to drive up both business and overall take up, ensuring private sector investment is maximised and guaranteeing the long term sustainability of the network.
Access to superfast broadband in the wider community is hugely important in order to attract and retain high value businesses in Cornwall
. The BT proposal offers wide coverage, with a fibre rich solution available to 86% of all premises. There are 2 main types of fibre based solution – FTTP and FTTC
Fibre to the Premise (FTTP).
The fibre optic network is extended from the local telephone exchange (there are 100 in Cornwall
) as far as the business or household. Fibre has staggering capacity (e.g. a single strand can transmit millions of calls or dozens of HDTV channels simultaneously), so FTTP is a fully future-proofed connection. With launch speeds of 100Mbps, we are aiming to make about half the fibre connections as FTTP.
Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). The fibre optic network is extended from the local telephone exchange to the green roadside cabinets. Superfast broadband is then delivered over a much shorter copper line to the end user – often a few hundred metres instead of several kms – giving typical speeds of 15-40Mbps.
Infill solutions, such as wireless, satellite and advanced copper technology, will provide a step change in broadband connectivity in the estimated 14% of premises where a fibre solution is uneconomic.
This scale deployment provides the commercial incentive for BT and helps the feasibility of their business case. Wider coverage in turn drives significant wider socio-economic benefits, including the ability to work more flexibly from home, to start up knowledge businesses, attract inward investors, and the opportunity to develop innovative new NGB content and applications. The scale will also ensure the network becomes attractive to