Internet access for Whitby and rural Yorkshire is a national infrastructure priority – GP Taylor

‘THERE are just too many people wanting the internet and not enough lines, I blame all those holiday cottages’. That was the reply of the telephone engineer when my connection day was cancelled for a second time.

A lack of digital connectivity is holding back large parts of Yorkshire, says GP Taylor.

The annoying thing for me is that I can actually see the telephone exchange from my house and yet the four-week wait for connection turned into eight, even though the previous owners had telephone and internet.

Three years later, the problem is getting worse. Slow speeds and drop outs happen every day. As a writer working from home, this can be very annoying if you have an eleven o’clock deadline and the service goes down in central Whitby.

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If it is bad for me, then how bad must it be for those businesses in deepest rural Yorkshire? For any business to survive in these unprecedented times, there is a need for a high-speed connection to the internet, preferably by a reliable fibre-optic cable.

Towns like Whitby are dependent on the internet, writes GP Taylor.

It is a shame that so many areas of our county fall into areas that even the Government admits are forgotten and neglected. Statistics from 
Ofcom showed that while broadband in urban areas of England has an average speed of 35.3Mb, in rural areas that speed is just 17.5Mb. That’s not enough to provide any business or householder with a decent connection.

Writing that seems strange as it is very much a first world problem and even 20 years ago the thought would not have crossed my mind. Sadly, times have changed and internet connection is an important consideration.

If you read TripAdvisor, you can even see that some remote holiday locations get bad reviews because of poor connection speeds. It is quite laughable that people take internet and wifi into consideration when booking a holiday, but these are the times in which we live.

As I am still shielding from Covid-19, having a good internet connection has been vital. It is my only way of getting food, which meant that at the height of the pandemic I was having to get up in the night to book a slot for a supermarket delivery. Not a good time to have the broadband go down…

Reliable internet connection is crucial to all ,writes GP Taylor.

The Government should make it a priority to give everyone in Yorkshire access to fibre optic connection. Yet many of the remote rural locations in Yorkshire where farmers operate are often last in the queue for getting connected.

Few users over a wide area are not financially attractive to the internet line providers, due to the economic challenges of building expensive new networks.

The Government’s gigabit voucher scheme allows individuals and groups in rural areas to apply for money to get them connected to broadband, which according to Digital Minister Matt Warman still has £70m “there for the taking”.

Having looked at the scheme, it is very complicated and needs to be clearer and more widely advertised. The money would be better allocated if it was just given to the line providers with the demand that every rural home is connected by 2025. That would also stop local councils from frustrating the work needed. No longer would rural Yorkshire be at the back of the queue, and the Dales and Moors would have a decent cable connection.

It is important that connections should be hard wired and not supplied through 5g wifi. What Yorkshire doesn’t need is more electronic smog covering the countryside. We are still in early days in our understanding of electro-magnetic fields (EMF) and their effect on the human body.

In the race to get better rural and urban internet connection, it is important to take into consideration what the effects of new technologies can have on individuals and the environment.

There is no doubt that everyone should be entitled to new ways of watching entertainment and keeping in contact with friends and family. Business in Yorkshire needs to be as connected as those in the South East and London. It is a shame, but there is no going 
back to how things were 
before the internet and broadband.

The manuscript for my new book only exists in a digital format. When it is finished, I will press a button and it will vanish from my machine only to reappear with my editor. They in turn will send it to a printer. Only then, will it take the form of a book on real paper.

Sadly, the internet is here to stay and it is only right that we in rural Yorkshire have the same access as our southern counterparts.

GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster. He lives in Whitby.

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