In 2022 Wildanet commissioned Curia to produce a report on the potential benefits delivery of Gigabit broadband could yield (linked below). One of Chamber’s investory, JBP associates, has an ongoing commercial relationship with Wildanet.
Rural Broadband for Cornwall
The Government has today awarded two contracts, worth a combined £36 million to Liskeard-based internet service provider Wildanet. The contracts are part of Project Gigabit and will deliver super-fast broadband connection to almost 20,000 hard to reach homes and businesses in South West and Mid Cornwall.
Works will start immediately to survey rural homes and businesses with building work to begin connecting remote homes and business starting as early as summer.
Project Gigabit is the Government’s £5 billion plan to deliver fast broadband connections to rural and hard to reach areas in hopes of minimising digital disparity and levelling the playing field for rural areas to compete to host businesses with fast internet requirements.
Wildanet is already investing more than £50 million in an ultrafast broadband network across Cornwall and Devon. The new 10Gbps network will represent a significant technological leap for Cornwall, capable of speeds up to 100 times faster than the average internet speeds currently available.
As a result of these new contracts, Wildanet expects to create 200 jobs on top of the 150 the company has created in the area already. This will include a range of skilled roles across the Build Operation, (such as network design, surveying, and partner management), Engineering and Head Office roles such as Customer Care and IT. There will also be indirect opportunities for local companies such as civil contractors and supply chain.
“Wildanet undertake to deliver on this project using the public funds provided through these awards as a key player for Cornwall, by Cornwall, and of Cornwall. We passionately believe that the funding provided by BDUK and DCMS for these two vitally important infrastructure projects will assist Cornwall in growing its economy, connecting more people and businesses, and democratising digital services so that everyone can benefit from the opportunities that they present.”Helen Wylde, Wildanet Chief Executive Officer
Connecting Cornwall Report
In 2022 Curia, an independent policy institute, produced a report outlining the potential benefits of Gigabit broadband deliver across Cornwall concluding that it could add over £70 million of value to the Cornish economy annually.
The report showed potential benefits ranging from Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy, more jobs and a reduced requirement for commuting leading to lower carbon emissions.
“We are delighted to hear that Wildanet has been awarded by the Government, this will connect thousands of people in rural Cornwall with lightning-fast broadband. As our research in partnership with NGD Advisory Services Connecting Cornwall showed, the investment into Gigabit Broadband could generate £615 million of Gross Value Add, a £222.25 impact on wellbeing per household, per annum and £101 million of carbon tax between 2020 and 2030. We look forward to seeing the opportunities that improved connectivity will bring to Cornwall.”Ben Howlett, Chief Executive of Curia
As shown in the Connecting Cornwall report, investment in infrastructure can lead to benefits of all different types, many of which will not appear in standard ROI calculations. As Government aims to decrease social inequality, tackle climate change and grow the economy, all without overstretching the public purse it is essential that each goals is accounted for when allocating funds for infrastructure.
Gigabit broadband and the opportunities it will give the residents of Cornwall are an investment in the future, it will cost the treasury money in the short term but reap benefits of higher tax receipts, lower costs of programmes to fix the inequality caused by isolating rural areas and reduced costs of both climate change and decarbonisation in the future. When viewed in the round these sorts of investments are a sound way to Level Up the UK and reduce economic inequality long term.