BT Openreach has beaten Fujitsu to launch the UK’s first rural broadband pilot scheme, supplying fibre broadband to 90 per cent of North Yorkshire.
The 10 per cent of most difficult locations will get a minimum speed of 2Mbps of traditional copper broadband – from a typical speed of 512kbps today – up to 24Mbps.
North Yorkshire County Council said BT will work with community groups in these areas to see if fibre can be extended into their communities.
County councillor Carl Les, deputy leader of North Yorkshire County Council and chairman of the Connecting North Yorkshire project, said: “North Yorkshire is a large rural county with many remote premises. As a result, deploying broadband is a particular challenge.
“We believe the technology is vital to our economic future however and so we are delighted to have signed this agreement. The project will help local businesses to be competitive and ensure they remain in the county. It can also play an important role in attracting even more firms to the county thereby helping to create jobs for local people.”
The average broadband download speed in North Yorkshire is 6.6Mbps, compared to a national average of 7.6Mbps, and 17 per cent of the county gets less than 2Mbps.
BT’s fibre-to-the-cabinet services will deliver up-to-80Mbps downstream and up-to-20Mbps upstream, while fibre-to-the-premises can achieve 330Mbps down and 80Mbps up.
The FTTP service will be available to all users in some areas, but anyone will be able to get ‘FTTP on demand’ if they’re willing to pay around £1,000 for the connection.
Bill Murphy, managing director for Next Generation Access at BT, said: “It is fantastic to see North Yorkshire be the first BDUK pilot to cross the finishing line.
“The race to provide the UK with the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015 is still very much on, and we’re looking forward to working with other local authorities and regions to bring the economic benefits of high speed broadband to businesses and communities everywhere.”
BT has already committed £23m to fibre rollout in North Yorkshire, and will add a further £10m to reach rural areas, alongside £17.8m from Broadband Delivery UK and £8.6m from the European Regional Development Fund.
Communications minister Ed Vaizey said: “Superfast broadband is transforming the way we do business and live our lives. We want to make sure that no community is left behind, which is why Government is investing £17.8 million to help revolutionise the infrastructure in North Yorkshire.
“I’m delighted that North Yorkshire has unlocked further funding and is ready to start rolling out fibre broadband. It’s an ambitious project which will bring huge benefits to homes and businesses across the county.”
Cumbria is expected to announce a winning bidder soon, while Worcestershire has selected BT but faces a delay due to European competition concerns.