The importance of good broadband to the North Yorkshire economy

THE DEVELOPMENT OF North Yorkshire’s high speed broadband network has contributed £36m to the local economy – and this could grow to £220m in the next two years.

A report into the impact of the Superfast North Yorkshire project, which is helping to extend the availability of high speed fibre broadband, says that for every £1 invested, £7 will be added to the county’s economy.

Independent analysis by Regeneris Consulting highlights a range of benefits for businesses connected to the new fibre network.

It shows a large proportion of small and medium sized firms have become more productive and grown as a result of their new connection.

The report was welcomed by the Richmond MP Rishi Sunak who has campaigned to get better broadband for his rural constituents.

He said: “This report is evidence of the transformative impact on business of higher broadband speeds.

“Superfast broadband is a catalyst for economic growth, particularly in rural areas. It puts small firms in the more isolated parts of North Yorkshire on the same footing as bigger companies in the cities. With good broadband, firms based anywhere in the Richmond constituency can compete.

“My priority is now to make sure that every home and businesses in North Yorkshire experiences the benefits of this technology is already delivering to so many.”

Phase one of the Superfast North Yorkshire fibre broadband network was completed earlier this year. It ensured that more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses across the county can access fibre broadband with 86 per cent able to order superfast broadband with speeds of 25Mbps or above.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "From Ainderby Steeple to Masham, and from Hardraw to Leyburn, the Superfast North Yorkshire project has done a remarkable job in transforming the digital landscape of the region.”

Mr Vaizey added that the Government, together with local authorities, is investing more than £1bn to take superfast coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.

The Regeneris Consulting report is based on a variety of factors including changes in internet use by businesses connected to fibre and the resulting impact on turnover, profitability and employment.

Work is well underway on the next phase of the Superfast North Yorkshire project with £8m in additional public sector funding helping to make high speed broadband available to another 11,100 homes and businesses by the end of 2016.

The project was the first in the UK to deploy fibre broadband using the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK funds following the signing of the original £36.4m contract between North Yorkshire County Council and BT in July 2012.

BT was chosen as the project’s private sector partner following an extensive selection process by the county council. BT is contributing £10m towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas whilst the county council is using its £17.8m share of BDUK funds as well as up to £13m of its own funds. A further £8.6m is coming from the European Regional Development Fund for the first phase of the project.