Sunday, 31 July 2016 17:56

Yorkshire in £20.5m broadband pledge

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Yorkshire in £20.5m broadband pledge

North Yorkshire County Council has agreed £20.5m to bring faster connections to rural areas.

The local authority said the third phase of its superfast broadband programme reinforced its commitment to making the area a better place.

It comes as the authority said high-quality broadband of at least 25Mbps will have been brought to 91% of premises across the county by next June.

The 91% encompasses phases one and two of the project, which has cost £34.5 million. The £20.5m spent on the third phase will take the coverage up to 95-96%.

    See also: Network fights for faster rural broadband

Just over £12m for phase three will come from the authority's own funds.

Some £7.3m will come from the Government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and £1m will come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

A procurement process will now begin to find a technology partner for the scheme who will provide the best value for money for the taxpayer.

The council has a further sum of £682,000 put by to target communities where there are anomalies in coverage once it has been decided where the phase three work will take place.

It is expected that detailed planning work on phase three will start after Easter next year.

Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire's executive member for broadband, said faster connections would help business, tourism and local residents.

It was important to realise that while it was not the council's obligation to provide a service to areas where it was not commercially viable, it was committed to doing so.

Councillor Mackenzie said: 'It is a top priority to make North Yorkshire an even better place to live and do business in. We are helping business and we are helping tourism.

"In addition, superfast broadband is a benefit for education, as increasingly pupils and students use the internet for their schoolwork and studies.

"Increasing the coverage of 25Mbps provision helps them. There is also a benefit to health care via tele-medicine.

''The average cost of connecting a premise to superfast broadband has increased rapidly as we reach more remote, less populated communities.

"Nevertheless we are committed to helping our most isolated residents and businesses to get a good quality connection."

Last month, the Rural Services Network called for renewed effort to ensure that the 5% of premises have adequate broadband connections,.

The call came after the government proposed a Universal Service Obligation that would see all premises given a legal right to receive a minimum broadband speed of 10Mbps.

In response to an Ofcom consultation, the network described as "disappointing" the government's proposed "right to request" superfast broadband connections.

Rural homes and businesses were being treated differently to the 95% of premises already connected, the network warned.

It added: "Renewed effort is now required to reach the final 5% of premises, most of whom are in rural locations and who still constitute around a quarter of all rural premises."

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