Major broadband projects to transform Harrogate download speeds

Much of normal life may still be in lockdown but three separate multi-million pound projects in the Harrogate district promise significant progress on bringing better download speeds to thousands of residents and businesses.

Friday, 19th June 2020, 4:14 pm
Beating the lockdown blues - FibreNation engineers are currently working hard to deliver FTTP (fibre to the premises) in Harrogate

Now regarded by some as the fourth utility service, such work has become even more vital at the present time when staying connected is so integral to people’s new way of living under lockdown conditions and social distancing.

Having been given key worker status, teams are currently digging up footpaths and installing fibre at several locations on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council and CityFibre, including in Starbeck and Pannal.

Phase three of the county council’s Superfast North Yorkshire initiative is currently bringing download speeds of 300mbps to a further 14,239 properties in a £20.5m project, having already connected approximately 175,000 properties in earlier phases.

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At the same time, a second county council-led scheme; Local Full Fibre Network, is installing 180km of gigabit fibre linking up almost 350 public buildings throughout North Yorkshire via Leeds-based contractor SCD.

As if that wasn’t enough, a third private sector project is ongoing thanks to CityFibre.

The current rollout of FibreNation in the streets of Harrogate will be followed by similar work in Knaresborough and Ripon.

Once completed, FibreNation is expected to provide a network build of gigabit-ready fibre to an additional 50,000 homes and businesses by 2023.

Paul Crane, head of engagement and rollout at FibreNation, said: “Our engineers are currently working hard to deliver FTTP (fibre to the premises) in the Starbeck area of Harrogate, after completing works to almost 4,000 properties in the Bilton area of the town.

“For daily life to continue in the ‘new normal’, having access to a full fibre connection (which is one hundred times faster than standard broadband) is now essential so we can continue working, socialising and entertaining at home.

“This pandemic has proven that fibre is the fourth utility and life without it can be challenging.”

There is not expected to be any let-up on the path to 100% superfast coverage in North Yorkshire in the next two-and-a-half years.

The process of choosing a suitable broadband service provider for phase four of the county council’s SFNY project is now underway.

The contract is worth up to £12.5m and will deliver “Next Generation Access” (NGA) to thousands of additional premises across North Yorkshire where NGA technology is not yet available.

The county council’s executive member for access, Coun Don Mackenzie, said: “This last few months have shown how important good broadband is for us all, and the county council’s latest investment in IT infrastructure could not come at a better time, particularly for our more rural communities who would not otherwise receive this service.”

Harrogate district broadband speeds analysis

The House of Commons Library has produced estimates of average download speeds for individual areas within each parliamentary constituency across the UK.

In Harrogate and Knaresborough, the fastest area was Harrogate East, where the average download speed was 80.1 megabits per second in May 2019, when the data was recorded.

This was significantly higher than the UK average of 60.9.

At the other end of the scale, the area of Boroughbridge and Marton-cum-Grafton saw an average speed of 39.8.

But this still higher than Ofcom’s definition of “superfast” downloads, which it defines as at least 30 Mbps.

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