North Yorkshire County Council has reinforced its commitment to making the area a better place to live in and do business in by agreeing funding of £20.5 million for phase three of its Superfast North Yorkshire programme.
Just over £12 million will come from the authority’s own funds, £7.3 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and £1 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
High quality broadband with a minimum speed of 25Mbps will have been brought to 91 per cent of premises across the county by next June in phases one and two of the project, which has cost £34.5 million.
Phase three will then take the coverage up to 95-96 per cent and a procurement process will now begin to find a technology partner for the scheme who will provide the best value for money for the taxpayer.
The council has a further sum of £682,000 put by to target communities where there are anomalies in coverage once it has been decided where the phase three work will take place.
It is expected that detailed planning work on phase three will start after Easter next year.
By the end of June, 830 fibre broadband cabinets had been switched on since the launch of the project.
North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Broadband, Councillor Don Mackenzie, said it was important to realise that while it was not the council’s obligation to provide a service to areas where it was not commercially viable, it was committed to doing so.
‘‘We have made the most progress of all the organisations as part of the BDUK programme and have the best track record. It is a top priority to make North Yorkshire an even better place to live and do business in. We are helping business and we are helping tourism.
‘‘In addition, superfast broadband is a benefit for education, as increasingly pupils and students use the Internet for their schoolwork and studies. Increasing the coverage of 25Mbps provision helps them. There is also a benefit to health care via tele-medicine.
“The average cost of connecting a premise to superfast broadband has increased rapidly as we reach more remote, less populated communities. Nevertheless we are committed to helping our most isolated residents and businesses to get a good quality connection.
‘‘At the start of the programme in 2012 the cost was almost £200. That cost has now risen to almost £600.
‘‘We are nearing the end of phase two of our broadband expansion. By next June we expect to have up to 91 per cent of premises connected up to a minimum of 25Mbps. We then start phase three which will take that coverage up to about 95-96 per cent by 2019.
‘‘We hope to have a clearer picture of which communities will be included in phase three once we have completed the procurement of the successful tenderer for this £20.5 million contract.’’