A senior government minister has hailed the effect that superfast broadband connections are having in supporting business growth throughout the UK.
Speaking in Cornwall today, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey noted that more and more companies are signing up for fibre services to join the 'super-fast broadband revolution'.
He claimed that super-fast broadband is "a key part" of the present and future success of the UK as a whole.
"This exciting technology is essential to modern business life whether you are a high-tech start-up or an established family firm in an industry, such as tourism or manufacturing," Vaizey stated.
"It will become even more essential in the increasingly 'connected world' of the future."
Vaizey was speaking at a BT event where the company revealed that 6,000 Cornish businesses have now signed up for superfast broadband services in the region. These services are the result of the £132m Superfast Cornwall programme which aims to bring fibre to 95% of the county by the end of 2015 and is a joint partnership between BT, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cornwall Council.
"The latest research shows very clearly the great benefits that superfast broadband is bringing to Cornwall, particularly when you bear in mind this has been achieved during the difficult economic conditions of recent times," says Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director for the Cornwall Development Company.
"In fact, we believe that the number of jobs created or safeguarded could be much higher than even this survey indicates because the estimate is based on the number of businesses which have been using fibre broadband for at least 12 months, whereas more than twice this number of firms are now using the service."
A survey of 220 businesses that had been using the fibre service for more than 12 months estimated that the adoption of superfast broadband in Cornwall has saved 807 jobs and created an additional 611 positions in the region.
More than half of businesses using the new superfast networks said that access to faster broadband services had allowed them to grow while 79% say it has saved them time and money. Just over half claim fibre has allowed them to work in new ways and 49% say they can now work more efficiently and flexibly.
Vaizey agreed that it was "heartening" to see the ways in which UK companies are embracing the new technology and finding ways to make it work effectively for them.
The government is aiming to ensure 99% of UK homes and businesses have access to super-fast broadband by 2018.