Super-fast broadband ‘crucial’

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WILLIAM Hague will today claim super-fast broadband is “critical” to the future of the north’s economy as high-speed rail as he backs a push to get it rolled out across North Yorkshire.

Foreign Secretary Mr Hague, the Richmond MP, will reveal his determination to “eliminate” areas which do not have access to high-speed internet connections in a video to be shown at a conference today.

The Broadband North Yorkshire conference in Ripon brings together businesses, residents and telecoms companies after the areas was named as a pilot area to test how rural areas can be connected to superfast networks.

Mr Hague will say: “It is an essential part of the infrastructure of our economic success in the future.

“In the same way as high speed rail is important to the future of our economy including the North of England, high speed broadband is critical – it’s part of that infrastructure.”

He will add: “There are more government services just like more business services online. We need everyone to be able to get access to those services.

“That means eliminating those areas where people can’t get broadband and making sure we get as much superfast broadband as possible rolled out across the country.”

North Yorkshire is one of four areas chosen by the Government to test how best it can roll out superfast broadband to areas where it is not commercially viable to do so. Ministers are to use some of the BBC licence fee which was put aside for promoting the switchover to digital television but is not needed for that any more.

Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith has organised today’s conference, which has backing from North Yorkshire’s other politicians.

Mr Smith said: “I am delighted that so many communities, business leaders, charities, voluntary groups and telecommunications industry representatives are coming together to discuss what is a very important issue for the future of North Yorkshire.

“This is only the start of the journey to getting better broadband access for the County, but it is an important start.

“I am delighted to have the support of every Member of Parliament from North Yorkshire and York and we will be doing all we can to drive forward this project in the months and years ahead.”