Regional broadband initiative kicks off

BT's partnership with a European development body bore its first fruits this week when parts of Cornwall were broadband-enabled

A joint venture between BT and regional development agencies to bring broadband to rural areas came into effect this week.

Six telephone exchanges in Cornwall are now ADSL-enabled, meaning local residents and businesses can now sign up for a high-speed Internet connection via their phone line. A further seven local exchanges will be upgraded later this year if demand is high enough.

The project is called Access for Cornwall through Telecommunications for New Opportunities Worldwide (ACT NOW), and is costing at least £10m. The European Regional Development Council is contributing £5.7m, while BT is spending around £1.7m on upgrading the exchanges.

ACT NOW is seen as an example of one way that broadband could reach more remote parts of Britain, which telecoms firms claims do not offer enough potential customers to make it commercially viable to roll out new infrastructure.

BT has said that it wants to widen its ADSL network, but can only do so if regional development agencies and local governments help.

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