£21m in broadband funding announced

Superfast North Yorkshire has switched on almost 740 fibre-broadband cabinets across the county since its launch. (S)
Superfast North Yorkshire has switched on almost 740 fibre-broadband cabinets across the county since its launch. (S)

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has this week agreed a funding package worth £21m for its Superfast North Yorkshire programme.

Up to £13m will be released from the authority’s own funds and £8m will come from national and European governments. This is designed to bring high-speed broadband connections to 95 per cent of premises across the county.

This comes on top of the £34.5m already invested in high-quality connectivity in the county.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, NYCC’s executive member for broadband, said: “This is an enviable record, which makes North Yorkshire the leading authority in the country for the reach of its high-speed broadband programme.

“With this extra funding, we will be able to penetrate to the more remote parts of our very rural county, to communities and businesses which hitherto had little hope of reaping the advantages and rewards of high-speed internet access.”

However, the project’s figures were disputed by independent news and information site Thinkbroadband, which said North Yorkshire had been “slower than most” in announcing this stage of funding.

It also estimated superfast broadband coverage (defined as 24Mbps and better) in the county at 79.5 per cent – less than the 86 per cent claimed. The significance of the difference is that it affects calculations of the public subsidy to reach the remaining premises. If Superfast North Yorkshire’s figure’s are correct, the subsidy is £850 per premises, but if Thinkbroadband has calculated correctly, the subsidy is £500 per premises, although the site conceded that “the reality is likely to sit in between our worst-case scenario [...] and the project’s own hopes.”

According to Thinkbroadband’s calculations, Harrogate district has the best broadband coverage in the county, with superfast connections reaching 93.6 per cent coverage.

NYCC will now follow the funding decision with further discussions with BT and partners to draw up contracts for the start of phase three.