internet at the heart of cumbrian economy

“Let’s put Cumbria at the heart of the Internet economy,” says Rory.Rory has called upon Cumbria to make the most of its investment in broadband infrastructure. This comes in the wake of new research by AT Kearney, the consultancy, valuing the UK Internet economy at £82bn a year.This is equivalent to 6 per cent of UK gross domestic product, which is significantly higher than the global average. Vodafone, the mobile operator that sponsored the research, said the Internet now represented a larger section of the UK economy than mining and utilities combined.The research found that for every £1 spent on fixed and mobile Internet access in the UK £5 in revenue was created in the digital economy.

“This research confirms the absolutely critical importance of investing in better broadband and mobile access in Cumbria,” said Rory.  “We’ve been given more money per capita to spend on broadband in Cumbria than in any other area in the UK. We won our campaign to increase mobile coverage to 98%. And we persuaded the chancellor to invest a further £150m on building more mobile masts. Now we have to make sure that we reap the benefits of these triumphs: £5 for every £1 we’ve invested. To do that, we must build on our existing success. We need to make sure all our businesses, large and small, in every sector – agriculture, tourism, retail – make the most of what the Internet has to offer.

“Penrith is already leading the way: it won an E-Town Award in November and was recognized by Google as one of the places in the UK where businesses are generating the highest rate of growth through the Internet [25% in Penrith in 2010]. But our B&Bs can also reach new customers through the Internet. Our farmers can take advantage of a whole range of amazing new applications which depend on wireless connectivity. And our public services must also benefit. We need to connect all our hospitals and surgeries like Alston Hospital and Penrith Hospital, which recently unveiled a video-link. Our schools must take full advantage of distance learning, so that young Cumbrians can perfect their IT skills and study the best courses available. They can follow the brilliant example of schools like High Hesket, which won the Make IT happy competition in the North-West.

“The brilliant thing about the Internet economy is that doesn’t matter where you live; anyone can be a part of it. So, we need to bring all our businesses, public services, and communities together – wherever they are – to get the most out of our broadband investment.”

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