Faster Broadband Expansion in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

In a significant boost for digital connectivity in Cornwall, Wildanet, a local contractor, has been awarded a £41 million contract to deliver gigabit-capable broadband across rural areas of East Cornwall, West Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly. This development is part of the UK government's ambitious Project Gigabit programme, which has earmarked £5 billion for enhancing broadband access to hard-to-reach communities.

Project Gigabit's Impact in Cornwall

This recent allocation raises the total Project Gigabit funding in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to £74 million, aiming to connect over 37,000 homes and businesses. Previously, in 2023, Wildanet had received £36 million to enhance digital infrastructure in South West and Mid Cornwall, connecting up to 19,250 premises.

The initiative marks the third major investment in Cornwall under Project Gigabit, significantly expanding the region's digital infrastructure. Localities from Bude to Looe in East Cornwall and from Portreath to the Helford River in West Cornwall will benefit. Network planning and preliminary surveys are set to begin shortly, with installation expected to start in Autumn 2024.

Technological and Economic Benefits

Gigabit-capable broadband offers speeds up to 1,000 megabits per second, facilitating rapid downloading and seamless streaming across multiple devices. This technology is crucial for rural and remote communities, often left out of broadband suppliers' commercial plans. By enhancing digital access, Project Gigabit also supports local small and medium-sized enterprises crucial for regional economic development.

The implementation of this advanced digital infrastructure is anticipated to create numerous job opportunities and foster economic growth in Cornwall.

Wildanet's ongoing initiatives, including a new Technical Training Academy and partnerships for apprenticeships, underline its commitment to community development and digital inclusion. With substantial private investment and a focus on sustainable and responsible business practices, Wildanet is set to expand its services across the South West, continually aiming to reduce digital exclusion.

This extensive project not only promises to revolutionise internet access in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly but also sets a precedent for similar developments in other rural parts of the UK.

Last week, the Government announced six new contracts to connect around 88,600 rural premises. These include:

  • South Yorkshire: Quickline awarded £44 million to connect 32,100 premises
  • West Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean: FullFibre awarded £23 million to connect 7,900 premises
  • Peak District: FullFibre awarded £10 million to connect 4,400 premises
  • Dorset and South Somerset: Wessex Internet awarded £33 million to connect 21,400 premises
  • Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: Wildanet awarded £41 million to connect 16,800 premises
  • Mid West Shropshire: Voneus awarded £12 million to connect 6,000 premises

Kerry Booth, Chief Executive, Rural Services Network

The expansion of gigabit-capable broadband in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly through Project Gigabit is undoubtedly positive news for our rural communities. This development represents a significant step forward in reducing the digital divide that often isolates rural regions. Enhancing digital infrastructure not only connects homes and businesses but also enriches lives by improving access to essential services and opportunities. It's important to recognise the strides being made, while continuing to advocate for and support widespread and equitable digital inclusion.


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