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Celebrations as North Yorkshire broadband scheme reaches milestone

Wednesday, May 27th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The superfast broadband programme in North Yorkshire has reached the end of its first phase, bringing access to fibre to around 150,000 premises.

Members of Superfast North Yorkshire (SFNY) celebrated the completion of the first phase of the rollout programme with the ceremonial switching on of a fibre broadband cabinet in the market town of Masham near Harrogate.

The new cabinet is the 1,000th to be installed across the county, when both the commercial and SFNY cabinets are taken into account.

It is one of four cabinets that will provide access to high speed broadband for more than 800 homes and businesses in Masham.

The latest milestone means that in total – from both the commercial and SFNY rollouts – nearly 90% of the county’s 380,000 premises can now get high speed broadband, offering up to 80Mbps and beyond.

Work is already underway on the next phase of the SFNY project, with £8m in extra funding to take superfast broadband to another 11,100 homes and businesses by 2017.

The programme’s website now includes new mapping technology, allowing people to input an address or click on a location to see if superfast broadband is available.

High quality broadband

For the first time, it will also indicate whether high quality broadband is available from wireless operators and other alternative community broadband schemes.

High quality broadband provides more than 10Mbps download speed and is aimed at locations where SFNY has not yet been able, within the funding available, to provide superfast broadband.

Scott Walters, chief executive of Superfast North Yorkshire, said: “The completion of the main part of the Superfast North Yorkshire project is fantastic news.

"Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses who were previously beyond the reach of fibre can now enjoy the numerous benefits of high speed broadband.

“With phase two we plan to make the technology available to a further 11,100 premises and hope to go further still with new fibre broadband technology we’ve been testing here in North Yorkshire.”

The aim is still to enable access to high quality broadband for 100% of premises in North Yorkshire by the end of 2017, he said.

Since work started on the SFNY project in 2012, BT Openreach engineers have enabled 149 exchanges and installed 10,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable – enough to stretch from York to Tokyo.

More than 34,000 homes and businesses within the project area have so far signed up to a high-speed broadband service.

Masham is the latest of around 700 towns and villages that have been connected with fibre since the village of Ainderby Steeple became the first community to benefit from the SFNY rollout in December 2012.

'Essential'

Sue Burrell who runs the Millgate Bed and Breakfast in the town, said superfast broadband was key to success.

She said their rating on some websites depends on the quality of the broadband available to guests, and added: “These days it is seen as an essential, especially among the younger guests – it is the first thing they ask about.

“With my old broadband connection I always knew when a guest was trying to log on because my work connection ground to a halt! I then ended up working very late into the evening just so I could get a better connection.”

Millgate was recently voted the best B&B in the world, according to TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice awards, which Ms Burrell said sparked a flurry of bookings and emails that took hours to deal with due to slow broadband, so superfast speeds would make a huge difference.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, added: “Today’s announcement is a great achievement, particularly with all the challenges that rolling out a fibre network in such a rural and remotely-populated county like North Yorkshire brings.

“Small enterprises like the Millgate B&B form a key part of the local economy in rural areas.

“For them, faster broadband is essential. It presents new opportunities for speaking to customers and clients online, improving customer service and opening the doors to doing more business online – helping them to discover new markets, sell new products, try new models and compete on an equal footing with larger businesses.”

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