A YORKSHIRE Dales community now has access to improved broadband speeds thanks to microwave technology.
The West Witton broadband service is an innovative solution to a frustrating problem as the village does not benefit from a fibre optic broadband network unveiled in Wensleydale last month.
Cabling for the new network does not pass through the Richmondshire village so a solution was found using a microwave signal which is beamed to a mast on Pen Hill above the village. The signal and superfast broadband is then beamed down to individual homes and businesses.
The West Witton Community Broadband Scheme is one of six pilot schemes around the UK part-funded by the government to explore new technologies that will help extend the superfast broadband network in hard-to-reach rural locations.
Rishi Sunak, the Conservative MP for Richmond, launched the service on Friday.
He said: “I’m passionate about improving broadband in rural areas. It is so important to modern life - for education, for business, for families. So it’s great that one of the Government’s pilot schemes to bring improved broadband to communities is being implemented in our area.”
Local businessman Dr Graham Bottley who runs online scientific tuition firm InCytometry from the village, said: “I have some clients outside the UK, particularly in the US, but I can only just service them adequately with my existing service. This will make a huge difference.”
West Witton Parish Council played a key role in securing the pilot scheme and parish clerk Mrs TC Harker said the new service was important for families.
She said: “My children have often had to stay late at school to do some of their online homework. They simply could not do it at home because of the poor connection speed.”
Mr Sunak said alternative broadband delivery technologies like microwave could help many more isolated communities get better speeds in the light of the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that broadband above 10 megabits per second could become a universal service obligation, putting it on a par with water and electricity supplies.
The new technology was installed by I Love Broadband and Airwave and BDUK, the government body that is responsible for delivering superfast broadband connections across the country.