Rural communities could be waiting until 2019 for super-fast broadband

Rural broadband campaign photos, some with Nick Duquemin.
Rural broadband campaign photos, some with Nick Duquemin.

Residents of the most rural communities in North Yorkshire have been told they could get connected to super-fast broadband by 2019.

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) in partnership with BT are currently working towards a goal of at least 95 per cent coverage within the next four years.

The partnership, known as Superfast North Yorkshire was established in 2010 and has already connected 90 per cent of the county with a ‘sufficient’ broadband speed.

North Yorkshire County Coun Don Mackenzie (Con), said: “We aim to get 95 per cent of the county connected by 2019. We are on course and we are confident of reaching that. I place a high priority on getting a good broadband for those remaining five per cent.”

While Coun Mackenzie maintains that the overall aim is to reach 100 per cent coverage of broadband in the county, he explains there are problems with this.

He said: “It’s our aim to achieve one hundred per cent and we are not shrinking from that. The problem in North Yorkshire is that we are the largest county in England, we have a population of nearly 600,000 and there are some communities which are very remote and it will take us some time to get good fibre based broadband to them.”

But despite difficulties the county council are keen to recognise the success of the campaign so far.

Coun Mackenzie said: “In some cases there are people we have taken from less than a megabit to 25 megabits and it makes an enormous difference.

“Obviously people who achieve superfast broadband connection after having no or very little broadband speed are delighted.

“Its a game changer and a life changer for their families.

“We have to give hope to the people who have not yet got good broadband connection and may well be in that residual five per cent because we don’t want to abandon them.”

The superfast North Yorkshire campaign has been through two phases since it was initially launched by Julian Smith, MP for Ripon and Skipton.

Mr Smith said: “There is a phase three that there is now funding for. It has not quite had the green light, but the money is there for stage three and then I think its a case of how do we do that final per cent.”

The aim of stage three will be to achieve the 95 per cent coverage before the council tackles the remaining uncovered areas.

However, Mr Smith has also attempted to maximise coverage by asking the government to extend a satellite broadband pilot scheme to North Yorkshire.

The scheme has already been rolled out to Suffolk and West Yorkshire to improve connection there.

Mr Smith said: “If you haven’t been connected yet that is an issue and that is why I was delighted to discover these pilots from the government.

“These satellite solutions are obviously helping those communities that need to be connected now.”