When I was a young, most, if not all, of my summer holidays were spent in Cornwall. My Grandfather was born in Bude and many happy summer days were spent eating ice cream, surfing in Widemouth Bay and searching the rock pools at Crackington Haven.
Today, Cornwall is where we land the majority of our subsea cable systems, meaning I still look at its stunning coastline and beaches, but usually through my screen for work.
It’s amazing to think that Cornwall has and continues to play a major part in Vodafone’s history. If I had to mix work and pleasure, I would have no hesitation in recommending a visit to the PK Porthcurno Museum.
Originally a telegraph cable landing site for Cable & Wireless, the museum was created to celebrate global communications. Over the last three years, the Vodafone Foundation has donated £360,000 to the museum to support its activities.
I thought about Cornwall again this week as the G7 Summit was held in Carbis Bay. As one of the greenest counties in the UK, it seemed an appropriate backdrop for the meeting.
Created after the first oil shock in 1975, the G7 brings together Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States, to improve sustainability, the economy and the wellbeing of people from all over the world.
It was a proud moment to see the meeting taking place on the Cornish coastline and I’m even prouder to have played a role in providing connectivity for the event. Because, whilst Cornwall has Petabytes of capacity landing in the country, this tends to pass through the county on its way to other locations in the UK.
Vodafone not only supported and facilitated services to support the G7 discussions, but we helped improve new, remote connectivity. This will allow local communities access to online services; opening up education opportunities, employment opportunities and removing the digital divide as part of this connectivity – a legacy beyond the G7.
The solutions and technology we deployed in Cornwall are cutting edge. In fact, they are the first in the UK and place Cornwall at the forefront of cutting-edge technology.
It’s called ‘Open Radio Access Network’ and we have installed it at two locations, Fistral Beach and St Keverne. Tourists and residents will benefit from faster mobile internet, as well as better-quality voice coverage, as a result.
For businesses and communities in the area, this will tackle the digital divide and allow them to have better access to online services, health information and can help them stay in touch with friends and family.
Katie Pontin, one of our technical specialists, tells us more:
Over the past year, the COVID-19 crisis has shown how connectivity and digital services can be a lifeline to both people and businesses. It has also shone a light on the existing digital divides, which is why we plan to invest more. By 2027, hundreds of rural communities in the South West will benefit from the technology and we’re looking further afield too.
I mentioned earlier that Cornwall serves as the gateway into the UK, but it also serves as a gateway to Africa through our investment in a new multinational fibre optic cable infrastructure called 2Africa, planned to go live in 2023-24.
The 37,000km globe-spanning internet cable will leave the shores of Cornwall before landing in 21 points across 16 African nations. This will help to bring faster, more reliable internet connections to hundreds of millions of people, bridging the digital divide in Africa.
In the last few weeks, we announced we are also working as part of a wider consortium of companies to establish a new operating company in the second largest country in Africa, Ethiopia which will help to connect tens of millions of Ethiopians from 2022.
This process is part of Ethiopia’s Economic Reform Agenda which will work to increase jobs, reduce poverty and grow the country’s economy in an inclusive and sustainable manner.
As the world around us becomes increasingly digital, millions of people are still unable to access online services and are being left behind.
We want to change that and give everybody access to the same connectivity and digital skills, allowing them to benefit from relevant products and services, such as access to education, healthcare and finance.
Working together with local governments and our tech partners, we can help everyone connect, creating a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow.
Around the globe, our network reaches 184 countries.
We provide the underlying transport network, the virtual overlay, and the platform to prioritise everything.