Skipton’s telephone exchange has been upgraded by BT, bringing super-fast broadband to the town’s residents and businesses.

The fibre optic upgrade, which was completed last month, follows the introduction of a new £50,000 broadband network in Settle.

However, internet surfers in much of Craven face a long wait for a high-speed wired link as there are no current plans to upgrade the district’s other exchanges.

BT is currently rolling out its £2.5 billion programme of exchange upgrades across the UK, with the aim of reaching two thirds of the nation’s homes and businesses by the end of 2014. Initially, Skipton was due to receive “fibre to the cabinet” broadband technology allowing broadband speeds measuring up to 40Mbps. However, it has been doubled, meaning consumers could receive speeds of up to 80Mbps.

John Anderson, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The arrival of super-fast broadband is a huge boost for local households and businesses.

“These are economically challenging times and super-fast broadband can transform their experience of the internet.

“Fast and reliable internet connections are an essential part of our national infrastructure, whether we want them for boosting our businesses, delivering essential public services, education online or entertainment at home.

“Nobody is doing more than BT to roll-out faster broadband across North Yorkshire and we want to go further. Local authorities and business organisations are keen to get fibre broadband to as many local homes and businesses as possible. We will offer our help and assistance to make that happen, in tandem with our own plans to boost speeds in general.”

BT has no current plans to upgrade the exchanges in places like Barnoldswick, Settle. The nearest exchanges on the roll-out schedule are Ilkley, which is due for an upgrade in June, and Keighley, which should be upgraded by the end of 2012.

Residents in a number of smaller communities, such as Appletreewick and Bradleys Both, have joined forces to launch their own wireless networks, bringing high-speed broadband.

However, many communities remain deprived of a good internet connection and the government has awarded £30 million to North Yorkshire in a bid to help improve the situation.

Mr Anderson said: “There are areas - mainly rural, less populated ones - where the private and public sectors will need to work together to make faster broadband available.

“We welcome the fact that the UK government has recently allocated funding of hundreds of millions of pounds for next generation broadband and are very willing to work with the public sector to find solutions for these more challenging areas.”

Meanwhile, BT’s biggest rival TalkTalk says its investment of £50,000 will improve connections and reduce the cost of broadband in North Craven.

A spokeswoman said: “TalkTalk’s expanded network covers Settle, Giggleswick, Stackhouse, Langcliffe, Stainforth and Helwith Bridge. Expanding its Next Generation Network allows TalkTalk to offer its best value for money packages to even more of the UK. Investing in the local area allows us to bring our great value offers to even more families.”