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Wireless broadband project brings superfast speeds to the Yorkshire Dales

Tuesday, March 17th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Four new wireless broadband masts in the Yorkshire Dales will give hundreds of people access to superfast speeds.

Around 155 homes and businesses in and around Wensleydale will benefit from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee’s decision to allow the siting of four masts in West Witton.

The scheme is part of one of eight national pilot projects being funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to bring superfast broadband to some of the country’s more remote communities.

The project is being run by emergency services network provider Airwave, which is piloting a number of fixed wireless access technologies in North Yorkshire.

Chris Armitage, the YDNPA’s planning committee deputy chairman and member champion for development management, said: “As part of looking after this special place, the YDNPA also has a duty to seek to foster the well-being of our local communities.

“In the National Park Management Plan we and our local partners made specific commitments to improve access to broadband as part of our efforts to try to keep the area special, while helping it to thrive.

“We believe it is crucial that local businesses and households should have decent broadband access – with superfast broadband in place for areas with significant population.

“The National Park is a sensitive environment. We have been working very closely with Airwave to make this positive planning decision possible.

“We look forward to working with Airwave to assess the outcome of this pilot and, hopefully, to being able to add more areas to the broadband access list in the near future.”

Airwave is working with a number of supporting organisations as part of the pilot, including TTP and SuperFast North Yorkshire (SFNY).

'Innovative approach'

Spokesman Chris Dawes said: “Over the last six months, Airwave has worked closely with the National Park Authority, the parish council and local residents to identify an innovative approach to providing superfast broadband in West Witton and the Esk Valley, and we can now begin the work needed to deliver a trial.

“Our experience in providing a resilient and dedicated emergency services network – covering 99% of Great Britain's landmass including remote and rural areas – means that we have the knowledge and skills needed to help address the challenges faced by rural communities like West Witton.”

The government is aiming to deliver superfast broadband – defined as speeds of 24Mbps or more – to 95% of the UK by 2017.

It has invested £10m in eight pilot projects to determine technologies, financial models and operational processes that will help bring superfast broadband to the final 5% of the country not included in its current rollout.

The projects are testing technology, financial, and operating models to gather evidence about the cost of delivering broadband in hard-to-reach areas; the levels of take-up of different technologies; and their performance.

At a Westminster eForum seminar on Priorities for Broadband in the UK last month, Chris Townsend, chief executive of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) described the different projects, which include wireless, fibre, and satellite broadband.

He told the seminar there was a lot of work to be done, but he hoped by the end of the year the pilots would be complete with business cases ready to be put together.

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