Slow broadband? New action by county council + Harrogate council

There has been good news for areas of the Harrogate district revealed to be labouring under slow broadband speeds in a major feature by the Harrogate Advertiser.

Monday, 30th July 2018, 12:07 pm
Updated Monday, 30th July 2018, 12:17 pm
Pushing for better broadband - County Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council.

New survey figures commissioned by the Harrogate Advertiser showed broadband was still a postcode lottery.

The fastest part of Harrogate in this digital divide is around, the town centre where there is an average speed of more than 35Mbps.

Work is still on-going on the digital divide in the Harrogate district and North Yorkshire.

For anyone living out of the town centre, the results are less impressive with an average speed of less than 20Mbps.

It's a situation Harrogate Borough Council is saying must be improved.

But North Yorkshire County Council says it is already working hard to improve the broadband situation for residents and businesses.

And it has given a warm welcome to the announcement that its bid for Rural Development Programme for England funding for superfast broadband was successful and that it is to receive £11.15million.

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner announced the funding under the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme during a visit to the North York Moors National Park last week.

The Phase 3 contract for the Superfast North Yorkshire (SFNY) project was awarded to BT in February 2018 and was valued at £20.5m. It was to connect up to 14,239 domestic and business premises, most by state-of-the-art fibre to the premise technology giving download speeds of up to 330Mbps, to be delivered by June 2021.

The additional funding will build on the success of Phase 3. Thanks to Phases 1 and 2 of SFNY, nearly 90% of all properties now have access to superfast broadband. Phase 3 will take this up to about 95%.

North Yorkshire County Coucncil argues that the value for money achieved by county council and SFNY has been the best by any rural authority.

The average cost per connection under Phase1 and Phase 2 is £204. That cost will rise steeply as the project moves further and further into deeply rural parts of North Yorkshire.

County Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “High-quality digital infrastructure is essential for business success, for so many needs of households, for education and for health and social care. "It is for those reasons that NYCC prioritises excellent broadband provision and also improvements in 4G mobile phone coverage.“In addition to the SFNY programme, the county council also bid for, and was successful in winning from the Government, £15.1m to develop a series of Local Full Fibre Networks based on 391 public buildings in the county.

"All the district councils supported our bid and it is expected that this money, the second highest amount given to any local authority, will extend the reach of high capacity fibre networks to public sector sites across the county.’’

As for Harrogate Borough Council, it believes more should be done to improve speeds and it's launched its own survey across the district to ask the public what they think..

Coun Graham Swift, cabinet member with responsibility for economic development, said: “We think more can be done to improve digital connectivity across the whole of Harrogate district.“Access to reliable and fast broadband has become as important as utilities like water and electricity. Speedy and stable broadband is important for all of our businesses, not just residents who rely on an internet connection.”

Harrogate council is currently consulting the public throughout the district about broadband speeds via its own online broadband survey.The aim is to understand how satisfied businesses and residents are with current broadband speeds and whether this meets expectations and needs.

The council then hopes to use the results to nform and support the work it is doing with partners to improve broadband services across the district.

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