Dozens of community groups, business leaders and industry figures have come together to discuss the future vision of broadband across North Yorkshire at a major conference organised by Julian Smith, Member of Parliament for Skipton and Ripon.
The event heard that around one third of North Yorkshire’s households get below average broadband speeds with many communities unable to get any connections at all.
North Yorkshire County Council set out their vision to enable as many people and businesses as possible to be connected to superfast broadband in the years ahead. The Government have nominated the County as one of four pilot areas to roll-out high speed connections and the vision is to use that as a catalyst to get the whole of North Yorkshire online.
The Broadband North Yorkshire website (www.broadbandnorthyorkshire.com) was also formally launched to provide a gateway for further information about the campaign.
Almost 200 people attended the event which was held at Ripon Racecourse.
Among the companies represented were BT, Virgin, Cable and Wireless, Avanti, the Post Office and Black Sheep Brewery. Organisations attending included the NHS, DirectGov, Race Online 2012, councils, charities and voluntary groups.
Julian Smith, Member of Parliament for Skipton and Ripon, who is leading the Broadband North Yorkshire campaign and organised the Conference said:
“I am delighted that so many communities, business leaders, charities, voluntary groups and telecommunications industry representatives have come together to discuss what is a very important issue for the future of North Yorkshire.
“This is only the start of the journey to getting better broadband access for the County, but it is an important start and all of the Members of Parliament involved will be doing all we can to drive forward this project in the months and years ahead.”
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said:
“By being one of the four areas where the Government are piloting the roll-out of superfast broadband, North Yorkshire has an opportunity to be at the forefront of the superfast internet revolution. That is why It is great that so many communities, businesses and organisations from across North Yorkshire are coming together to explore the potential that having better broadband access can bring.
“The Government think that having decent broadband connections will have a positive impact on our economy and on people’s lives. It is a positive impact we are determined to make possible.”
William Hague, Foreign Secretary and Member of Parliament for Richmond, said:
“It is an essential part of the infrastructure of our economic success in the future. Clearly public sector spending is not going to be the engine of growth in Britain or any European economy in the years to come.
“That means we need private sector expansion, we need businesses to be able to trade more easily with each other and we need the future economic recovery to be more evenly spread out across this country including in the North of England.
“So in the same way as high speed rail is important to the future of our economy including the North of England, high speed broadband is critical – it’s part of that infrastructure.”
“Bringing super fast broadband across North Yorkshire is the Council’s number one priority for business development with the added advantage of providing householders with the ability to receive services and entertainment that are currently out of the reach of many of our communities.”
Hugh Bayley, Member of Parliament for York Central, said:
“High speed broadband is essential for business and has also become an everyday necessity for people at home. If you want a good price when you book a train ticket, or buy almost anything, it’s best to look on the Internet.
“I represent a city which has high speed broadband already, but I strongly support the Broadband North Yorkshire Conference. People in rural communities need access to Internet services every bit as much as people in towns and businesses in places like York will benefit from the full roll out of broadband in other areas because it puts them in closer touch with their customers.”
A date was also set for the next Broadband North Yorkshire Conference in one year’s time to assess the progress that has been made and we continue to connect more of the County to broadband. It will take place at Ripon Racecourse on Saturday 11 February 2012.