Eight Cornish communities will be the first to get fibre broadband as part of a £132m scheme joint funded by the EU and BT.
More than 10,000 homes and businesses in Leedstown, Chiverton Cross area, St Agnes, Portreath, St Day, Devoran, Stenalees and Par are expected to be able to access the service by the end of March. It is part of a pilot scheme that will run before the main project's roll-out, which in its early phases will focus mainly on South East Cornwall.
The £132m project was announced in September and BT claims it is the biggest fibre optic rollout in the UK so far, with 90 percent of homes in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly set to be hooked up to super speedy broadband in 2014. It is hoped the project could act as a blueprint for future rural schemes.
BT has said it is putting £79.5m in the pot, with the remaining £53.3m from the European Regional development Fund (ERDF). Managed by Cornwall Council's economic development arm, the scheme is expected to create 4,000 jobs and protect another 2,000.
Nigel Ashcroft, director of next generation broadband for Cornwall Development Company, said: "This is an incredibly innovative and pioneering project never before done on this scale. A pilot scheme in these eight locations will provide valuable feedback at an early stage as we prepare for the early phases of the roll-out programme primarily in the South East of the county. A huge amount of engineering work is required for this complex project, but our surveys have shown that these communities can be upgraded relatively quickly.
"It means that early next year the first Cornish customers will be experiencing the huge benefits offered by super-fast broadband and we will be obtaining useful information, which will assist the project's progress elsewhere," he added.
Jon Reynolds, BT South West regional director, warned that while most premises in the eight pilot areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband immediately, a minority will not be able to do so.
"People not able to benefit initially will in future receive faster speeds than today through a mixture of technologies expected to include wireless, satellite broadband, advanced copper and a further extension of the fibre network," he said.