RURAL communities cut off from the digital revolution are to get superfast broadband speeds for the first time - with a little help from space.
Dozens of remote dales and villages in North Yorkshire will be given financial help to hook up to the internet using satellites orbiting the earth.
This will end more than a decade of difficulties for families and businesses in keeping pace with technology as five percent of the region’s properties can only access slow broadband speeds, with some still relying on dial-up technology first rolled out in the mid-1990s.
Richmond MP Rishi Sunak said he was delighted that faster internet will at last be available right across North Yorkshire, and he has campaigned in Parliament for access to satellite technology to be speeded up since he took his seat in the General Election last May.
He said: “Fast broadband is a modern-day essential service, for families and businesses. This is great news for those who have been struggling with a very poor or non-existent connection.
“Households and businesses with speeds of 2mbs or less – typically in the most remote areas – will be eligible for the scheme.”
Hilly terrain in North Yorkshire has long proved a problem for internet providers, but with satellite technology even installed at Everest base camp, there’s every hope the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors will be hooked up with ease.
For those who want to access it, vouchers worth up to £460 are available from North Yorkshire County Council to meet the cost of buying and installing the equipment needed.
Provided people meet the eligibility criteria of not having a broadband connection with download speeds of 2mbs or more, they will be issued with a code to order the satellite technology which looks similar to a TV dish.
Once online, users will need to pay a monthly subscription cost of up to £25 to the service provider for 12 months.
Conservative MP, Mr Sunak, said: “Decent speed broadband is now important to so many aspects of modern life. Whether it is children doing their homework, farmers filling in their CAP payment forms or just trying to run a business online, a fast internet connection is not just desirable it’s essential.”
For those living in rural areas without superfast broadband, popular services such as Netflix and Youtube won’t play without buffering and farmers have reported finding it difficult to fill out certain online forms.
However for small and medium size businesses owners, research has shown that the cost of not being able to access global markets through poor communication has been crippling.
David Cameronhas previously claimed fast broadband should be considered the ‘fourth utility’, with ambitious targets set for North Yorkshire to make sure 95 per cent of the area will have superfast broadband access by 2017.
For the remaining 5 per cent - the so-called broadband ‘not-spots’ of Upper Swaledale and Reeth - satellite is the solution at present.