BT scoops contract to build rural network

TELECOMS giant BT has been handed the contract to construct the £50m fibre-optic network that will bring high-quality internet services to every home and business in North Yorkshire over the next three years.

North Yorkshire County Council said yesterday that BT had beaten off competition from Japanese firm Fujitsu to win the contract for what will be the Government’s first pilot scheme delivering superfast broadband in rural areas.

The deal will guarantee an internet speed of at least 2Mbs to every single home and business in North Yorkshire by 2015, with the vast majority being able to access so-called ‘superfast’ speeds of 25Mbs or more within two years.

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BT said it will reveal further details of how the network will be constructed in the autumn.

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, said: “It is fantastic to see North Yorkshire be the first pilot to cross the finishing line. The race to provide the UK with the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015 is still very much on.”

The deal - first revealed in the Yorkshire Post earlier this month - has been lauded as the most significant technological revolution in the county since the arrival of the railways, and welcomed by politicians from all sides.

Julian Smith, the MP for Skipton and Ripon who led the Westminster campaign to win pilot status, said: “The award of this contract marks an exciting moment in the development of high quality, high speed broadband across North Yorkshire.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones added: “This is a huge step in the right direction, and will narrow the digital divide between the urban areas and our rural communities.

“People will notice the benefits of faster broadband when connecting online with friends, shopping or doing business over the internet. Many local companies tell me that slow internet connections are a significant barrier to greater success. High-speed broadband will radically change the economic profile of North Yorkshire.”