Concerns that villages near Ripon may lose out in the North Yorkshire superfast broadband initiative were raised this week.
North Yorkshire County Council’s director of finance and IT John Moore told the Gazette that some rural areas such as Grewelthorpe “will be disappointed” with new broadband speeds, which could be as low as 2 megabits per second.
“90 per cent of areas in North Yorkshire will get 25 Mbps but the other 10 per cent will get 2Mbps,” he said.
“The irony of all this is that the average speed is about 4Mbps, so the digital divide has actually been widened. Unfortunately we don’t have the money to reach more than 90 per cent of people in these areas.”
Mr Moore’s comments to the Gazette came after he raised the issue at a Harrogate district area committee meeting in November. Mr Moore suggested at the meeting at the Cairn Hotel in Harrogate that visitors to September’s broadband conference spearheaded by Ripon MP Julian Smith were “caught up in the MP’s enthusiasm”.
“We didn’t want to discuss it at the meeting at Fountains Abbey because we didn’t want to face a barrage of criticism and to be overwhelmed by it,” Mr Moore said.
Grewelthorpe parish councillor Eric Clark said that fast internet connection is vital to the sustainability of the village.
“If rural areas are expected to survive and thrive, be able to run businesses and build and develop industry then we need fast enough internet. That’s how we hold onto businesses and young people and sustain rural areas,” said Mr Clark.
Mr Smith said: “The contract between BT and North Yorkshire County Council is clear that nine in 10 properties in the county will get superfast speeds while everyone will get at least 2Mbps. This will be an improvement for many homes and businesses but I know that some communities and companies will want higher speeds to help reduce the digital divide. I will be pushing the county council and BT to look for innovative solutions, such as using mobile, satellite or wireless, so that where communities can show a demand for higher speeds, that can be delivered.”