The Roseland Peninsula is being hooked up to superfast broadband thanks to cable being laid across the bed of the River Fal.
Engineers from BT’s Openreach have installed two new underwater fibre optic cables across the River Fal, which will give an additional 500 Roseland homes and businesses access to the high-speed fibre technology by the end of the year. It will take fibre broadband coverage on the peninsula from the current 78 per cent of premises to about 95 per cent.
The job posed a number of challenges because of the way the bed of the River Fal shelves very steeply and the river’s importance to shipping.
The investment is part of the £132 million Superfast Cornwall initiative between the European Regional Development Fund, BT and Cornwall Council, which plans to make fibre broadband available to 95 per cent of homes and premises on Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by the end of 2014.
Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director for Cornwall Development Company said: “Only a few weeks ago Superfast Cornwall made national and international headlines with its pioneering plan to bring superfast broadband to the Isles of Scilly. It was a very exciting announcement, but we should not forget that the partnership is also working very hard to make this exciting technology as widely available as possible on the UK mainland. The work being undertaken across the River Fal and on the Roseland Peninsula is a good example of that commitment. It means that Roseland will be among the best connected rural areas in the UK.”
Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT, said: “Whether it is trialling new technology or carrying out important engineering projects, such as installing these cables across the River Fal, Superfast Cornwall continues to set the pace for superfast broadband partnerships across Europe. This was a complex engineering operation, partly because we had to lay the cables across an underwater cliff in the River Fal, in which the depth suddenly increases from about four metres to 30 metres. The two new cables will ensure that we have the capacity to meet the needs of households and businesses on Roseland for many years to come.”
Among the next businesses to get superfast broadband will be the King Harry Ferry company, which operates on the River Fal and celebrates its 125th anniversary on September 19. The King Harry Ferry and its sister company Cornwall Ferries Ltd, which runs 11 passenger ferries, carry about two million passengers and 300,000 vehicles a year.
Tim Light, the managing director, said: “This is an exciting time for us. The arrival of superfast broadband will be an important milestone for our ferry services, which have been operating in some form on the River Fal for about 500 years.
“We can see many opportunities. It will help tremendously with our plans to run a Smartcard-type system for integrated travel around the River Fal because such a system requires a great deal of data to be passed between the bus, train and ferry services. It should also be a boost for our on-line ticket sales, our wi-fi hotspots and the part of our company, which provides marketing services for about 360 firms and organisations in St Mawes, Truro and Roseland.”