County in superfast £3m broadband offer

North Yorkshire County Council will make the decision
North Yorkshire County Council will make the decision

Superfast broadband could soon be accessed by 93 per cent of premises across the county - if cash-strapped North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) agrees to invest £3.1million into the project.

An investment in the technology is on course to deliver connections to 326,000 homes and businesses across the county by the end of 2014.

This new proposal would see a further 26,000 gain access to services at speeds of 25 megabits per second or faster.

A partnership between the government’s broadband agency (BDUK) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has offered grants worth £5m toward the scheme, which is awaiting NYCC backing.

The county council’s executive will meet on Tuesday to discuss the plans.

“This is a very tempting offer to extend the coverage of superfast broadband,” said Catterick County Councillor Carl Les (Con), Chairman of the Superfast North Yorkshire programme.

Should the project get the green light, there will remain 27,000 premises across the county without superfast speeds. However, it is believed these buildings will have access to speeds of at least two megabits per second.

Coun Les said: ““There would unfortunately still be premises in most parts of the county which wouldn’t get superfast access as a result of this expansion, but while it falls short of what would obviously be our ideal of 100% coverage, it would mean thousands more homes and business enjoying high speed connections by 2014, with all the associated economic and domestic benefits.

“Superfast broadband is a key driver to economic prosperity in the 21st century, and is viewed as of equal importance to the county’s well-being as all the other services the council provides.

“We are determined to do all in our power to ensure that as many residents and businesses as possible in North Yorkshire are in a position to exploit those opportunities.”

BDUK is able to offer further funding because other counties involved in superfast broadband schemes have failed to deliver within the anticipated timescales.

Coun Les added: “It is important to remember that because North Yorkshire was selected as a pilot for rural broadband, the Superfast North Yorkshire project has not yet cost us anything in capital investment.

“If this new proposal is accepted, North Yorkshire will be getting a first-class broadband network worth in excess of £60m, in return for a capital investment by the County Council of just over £3m.”