North Yorkshire Looks Into Broadband Expansion
7:15am 29th October 2013
Up to 26,000 more homes and businesses in North Yorkshire are in line for superfast internet access if a financial partnership involving the Government and the European Regional Development Fund wins the backing of North Yorkshire County Council.
A major investment in superfast broadband is already on course to deliver high speed connections to around 326,000 of North Yorkshire’s 379,000 premises by the end of next year.
Now the Government’s Broadband UK agency (BDUK), and the ERDF, have offered grants totalling £5m to extend the scheme – on condition that North Yorkshire County Council adds £3.1m from its own financial resources.
If the offers are accepted by the County Council’s Executive today (October 29), some 93 per cent – or 352,000 premises - in England’s largest and most rural county will enjoy access to high-speed broadband (25 megabits per second or faster). Although they will not get superfast speeds, the remaining 27,000 premises will all have access to internet services of at least 2 megabits per second – still far in excess of the speeds available with the old dial-up technology, say North Yorkshire County Council. They add that plans are being developed that should improve the position for these premises even further.
“This is a very tempting offer to extend the coverage of superfast broadband,” said Councillor Carl Les, the Chairman of the Superfast North Yorkshire programme.
“There would unfortunately still be premises in most parts of the county which wouldn’t get superfast access as a result of this expansion, but while it falls short of what would obviously be our ideal of 100% coverage, it would mean thousands more homes and business enjoying high speed connections by 2014, with all the associated economic and domestic benefits.
“Superfast broadband is a key driver to economic prosperity in the 21st century, and is viewed as of equal importance to the county’s well-being as all the other services the council provides. We are determined to do all in our power to ensure that as many residents and businesses as possible in North Yorkshire are in a position to exploit those opportunities. Where Superfast North Yorkshire is unable to make that provision, we are working very hard to find other means of bringing the technology to people.”
BDUK says it is able to offer further funding because other counties involved in superfast broadband schemes have failed to deliver within the anticipated timescales.
“While the proposal does require a one-off capital investment by the county council of just over £3 million, it is important to remember that because North Yorkshire was selected as a pilot for rural broadband – largely as a result of the expertise and experience it was able to demonstrate to the Government – the Superfast North Yorkshire project has not yet cost us anything in capital investment,” added Councillor Les.
“If this new proposal is accepted, North Yorkshire will be getting a first-class broadband network worth in excess of £60m, in return for a capital investment by the County Council of just over £3 million.”
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