New broadband deal set to bring a superfast promise for region

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More Homes and businesses across North Yorkshire are set to benefit from high-speed broadband if the latest roll-out plans are backed but, for some, the technology will not be in place for at least three years.

Senior members of North Yorkshire County Council will meet next week to discuss releasing £4m earmarked for the latest stage of plans to bring faster broadband speeds to the county as warnings were made yesterday that keeping the issue in the public eye was “critical” for some rural communities where firms and individuals are lagging behind because of poor access.

Work is already underway on the second phase of the project and members of the council’s executive are now being asked to back proposals for the third stage when they meet on Tuesday.

However a report, prepared for councillors, warns: “...it is unlikely that the deployment will be complete before the end of 2018/19.”

Officers are investigating if another interim scheme will boost speeds until the roll-out is completed in 2018/19. A report will be prepared for members when more information becomes available but it should mean people can get better speeds ahead of the third phase reaching their community.

Those taking part could still benefit from superfast broadband when the project was introduced in their area.

Officers also warn some isolated areas may not be able to get high-speed broadband in the third stage and a fourth stage may be needed.

Last month charity Rural Action Yorkshire warned access to high-speed broadband has now become a “necessity” with poor mobile coverage and slow broadband in some rural areas making it nearly impossible to run a business, work from home or keep in touch with family.

Yesterday, Leah Swain, chief officer of Rural Action Yorkshire, added: “Ensuring access to superfast broadband remains on national and local agendas is critical as some rural areas continue to lag behind in terms of speed and connectivity, compared to the rest of the country.

“Poor broadband has a direct knock-on effect to businesses, schools, farmers and people of all ages in rural areas. We have heard stories of house sales falling through, because the local broadband is so slow.

“It is a key issue affecting the economic growth and sustainability of rural communities, but one we hope to solve through investment in new technologies such as wireless transmitters and commitment to reaching the final percentage not able to access superfast broadband.”

This week a survey by the CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, found the East Riding of Yorkshire was the worst county in England for running a rural business, with slow broadband speeds a major stumbling block. North Yorkshire finished outside the top ten best, in 12th.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post in May, Environment Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are seeing broadband improve, we will achieve 95 per cent coverage by 2017.

“Yes there is the five per cent of households who might not be reached by superfastbroadband but the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is clear that people will be able to use alternative technologies so that everyone has access in due course.”