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BT's rollout of fibre broadband in rural Cornwall is continuing apace, with 82 per cent of premises in the Duchy now able to sign up for super-fast speeds.

Some 206,000 homes and businesses have access to a BT Infinity broadband deal, making Cornwall the best-connected rural region in the UK.

Research conducted by SERIO at Plymouth University and Buckman Associates indicates that 83 per cent of small businesses using the service are saving time and money as a result.

And 58 per cent of Cornish business leaders surveyed said their company is growing thanks to faster broadband speeds.

Over a third of businesses completing the survey (37.5 per cent) said super-fast broadband had helped generate new sales.

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, commented that the SERIO research has "real international significance".

"It starts to vindicate what we’ve said all along - that fibre broadband will energise our economy, generate jobs, and save public money," she stated.

“With the help of major investment by the European Regional Development Fund, businesses can now take advantage of fibre broadband in Cornwall to become more competitive and more productive."

Ms Kroes said that for both businesses and the communities they serve, there can be "no better investment in our future than super-fast broadband".

Openreach's Chief Executive Liv Garfield noted that BT is "very proud" of the work it is doing in Cornwall to upgrade connectivity solutions.

"In many ways the region has become a perfect template for us in other rural areas of the UK," she said.

"Cornwall Council has shown strong leadership and real commitment to this project. We’ve been able to go even further than originally planned and, thanks to the success and skill of our engineering team, we reached our original target of 80 per cent coverage some 15 months ahead of schedule."

Ms Garfield said this means homes and businesses across Cornwall are in a position to exploit the speeds that super-fast broadband brings and reap the benefits - including a boost to prosperity.

According to latest BT figures, more than 35,000 homes and businesses have signed up for fibre broadband in Cornwall so far.

This includes an estimated 4,130 small and medium-sized businesses.

BT said the Superfast Cornwall project is on-track to deliver fibre broadband to 95 per cent of the region, plus the Isles of Scilly, by the end of 2014.

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