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Deal means high-speed internet for all by 2014
11:00am Friday 20th July 2012 in News
A £70 million deal to bring high-speed broadband to rural North Yorkshire has been dubbed the modern-day equivalent of the arrival of the railways.
North Yorkshire County Council announced this week it had signed a deal with BT that would bring high-speed fibre internet access to 90 per cent of the county by 2014.
Rural parts of the Dales will see the biggest benefit from the ground-breaking agreement.
The project, which will commence with immediate effect, will build on BT’s commercial investment so that nine out of ten North Yorkshire homes and businesses - some 365,000 premises - will have access to world class broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps within three years.
Ultra-fast broadband speeds of up to 330Mbps will also be deployed in certain areas and made available “on demand” throughout the entire fibre footprint should businesses want to upgrade to even faster speeds.
The remaining 10 per cent of premises will also see a speed uplift as the project aims to deliver 2Mbps or more by the end of 2014 to all homes and businesses. BT will also look to work with communities in the final 10 per cent to see if fibre can be extended further through collaborative projects.
North Yorkshire is one of the most rural counties in England and so the project will transform broadband speeds across the area. The county’s average downstream speed is currently 6.6Mbps whilst 17 per cent of premises receive less than 2Mbps.
BT has been chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process, the council said.
The company is contributing £10 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas whilst the county is using its £17.8 million share of government funds. The remaining £8.6 million is coming from the European Regional Development Fund.
BT has already committed around £23 million on deploying fibre broadband in the county. This forms part of its £2.5 billion overall commercial investment in UK fibre broadband. Further phases of this commercial deployment are due to be announced which will see the company invest a further £11 million in the county.
Deputy council leader Coun Carl Les, chairman of the Connecting North Yorkshire project, said: “North Yorkshire is a large rural county with many remote premises. As a result, deploying broadband is a particular challenge.
“We believe the technology is vital to our economic future, however, and so we are delighted to have signed this agreement. The project will help local businesses to be competitive and ensure they remain in the county. It can also play an important role in attracting even more firms to the county thereby helping to create jobs for local people.”
The Government’s communications minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “Superfast broadband is transforming the way we do business and live our lives. We want to make sure that no community is left behind, which is why Government is investing £17.8 million to help revolutionise the infrastructure in North Yorkshire.
“I’m delighted that North Yorkshire has unlocked further funding and is ready to start rolling out fibre broadband. It’s an ambitious project which will bring huge benefits to homes and businesses across the county.”
Rural Affairs Minister Richard Benyon said: “This is exciting news for everyone who lives and works in North Yorkshire. Superfast broadband will open the doors to countless business opportunities in the county, boosting the rural economy and supporting thriving local communities.”
Julian Smith, the MP for Skipton , led the Westminster campaign to win pilot status and Government investment.
He said: “This announcement is the modern-day equivalent of the coming of the railways or the introduction of canals.
“The award of this contract marks an exciting moment in the development of high quality, high-speed broadband across North Yorkshire. North Yorkshire and York Members of Parliament came together 18 months ago to support the bid for Government money to improve internet connections because, for too long, homes and businesses in this county have lagged behind more urban areas in the digital revolution.
“Over the next months and years, we will be working with North Yorkshire County Council and BT to ensure as many families and businesses as possible get connected to high speeds.”