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UK prepares for super-fast internet

posted 27 Oct 2010, 06:40 by Sam Mbale
Cornwall in south-west England, known for its surfing beaches, is about to become one of the best connected areas in the world with a new high-speed broadband network to lure businesses to the economically underdeveloped region.
UK-BROADBAND - James Curran sends another customer off to tour the beautiful Cornish countryside.

He rents out camper vans to tourists, and relies on the internet for his custom.

James Curran, Cornish Campers, saying:

"It means everything, it's vital. I'd say we get 80% of our bookings, although we do talk to a lot of people over the phone, pretty much everybody who books we chat to just to make sure that we've got the vans set-up as they want it to be with everything that they need; but all the bookings initially come through the internet."

Two years ago running an online business would have been difficult in this part of Britain - the internet was still in its infancy.

Cornwall may have some of the prettiest towns in Britain but it's also one of the poorest regions in Europe.

Now a one hundred and thirty two million pound investment in superfast broadband could transform the local economy.

PTC

"High speed internet is still relatively new to Cornwall and businesses here are certainly taking advantage of the opportunities . Now the United Nations wants to help countries in the underdeveloped world to do the same."

A survey presented to the UN shows that 30 percent of people in the western world have access to the web - but in poor countries it's less than 1 percent.

World leaders agree getting connected is vital for long-term economic growth.

They want to get more than half the world's population online within the next five years.

Small businessman David Goad is one of them - he's planning to put the family fudge-making business online.

By opening all-hours, David, who runs a string of shops and a wholesale business, hopes trade will be brisk all year round rather than just during the short summer months.

David Goad, Buttermilk, handmade fudge from Cornwall, saying:

"The internet is important to the growth of our business because it will allow us to do more work in the winter months and try to win more retail and wholesale work the hope being that it will eventually allow us to employ more people in the winter months to manage the online shop."

That should please Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron too, whose favourite holiday destination is Cornwall.

He's promised Britain the best broadband connection in Europe by 2015.

And thanks to a £530 million pound grant from the EU, Cornwall could become the UK's new Silicon Valley.

Hayley Platt, Reuters

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