North Yorkshire gets £11m government boost for rural broadband

Funding comes as Defra commits an extra £45m to support the rollout of superfast connections across the country

The Hole of Horcum is on the North Yorkshire Moors  Credit: Thomas Tolkien/CC BY 2.0

The government is putting an extra £45m into accelerating the rollout of superfast broadband in rural areas. 

The additional cash adds to the £30m that has already been committed to the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme, taking its total funding pot to £75m.

The scheme will be administered by the Rural Payments Agency. The initiative forms part of a wider government drive to make superfast broadband available to 97% of UK homes and businesses “over the next few years”. 

The money will be spent via grants awarded to local authorities representing rural areas where broadband speeds of 30Mbps or greater are not currently available or planned. The government said that, “wherever possible”, the grants will be allotted to programmes dedicated to rolling out fibre-to-the-premises networks.

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Rural affairs minister Lord Gardiner said: “Rural areas should not be left behind in the connectivity slow lane, missing out on the opportunities high-speed broadband can bring. The funding made available through the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme champions our countryside communities and businesses by opening up access to broadband of at least 30 Megabits per second, in some of the most hard-to-reach areas.”

An early recipient of funding is North Yorkshire, which has been awarded £11.15m to bolster its connectivity infrastructure.

The money will go towards the recent £20.5m deal the authority signed with BT to complete phase three of its Superfast North Yorkshire initiative. The first two phases of the programme have taken superfast broadband penetration to almost 90%, and the goal of the third stage is to ensure 95% of buildings have access by June 2021.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “High-quality digital infrastructure is essential for business success, for so many needs of households, for education, and for health and social care. It is for those reasons that North Yorkshire County Council prioritises excellent broadband provision and also improvements in 4G mobile phone coverage.”

The £11.15m funding adds to a sum of £15.1m awarded by the government to North Yorkshire to install a full-fibre network to link 391 public sector buildings across the county.

Mackenzie added: “All the district councils supported our bid and it is expected that this money, the second highest amount given to any local authority, will extend the reach of high-capacity fibre networks to public sector sites across the county.”

Sam Trendall

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