Work is to begin on a £15.1m scheme to improve North Yorkshire’s digital infrastructure and to enable innovations in areas like health and education.
The project is the result of a successful bid by North Yorkshire County Council and its wholly-owned high-speed connectivity provider NYnet, supported by the county’s seven district councils, to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund. The amount received is second only to that awarded to Greater Manchester among local authorities.
Following a detailed procurement process, SCD Group of Leeds has now been awarded the contract to deploy the new fibre network.
The project will initially see 180km of new fibre laid to 370 public sector sites, including council offices, schools and health authorities’ buildings, across 16 North Yorkshire town areas, boosting the existing extensive digital infrastructure in the county.
Full fibre networks use fibre-optic cables to connect premises direct to the exchange, and such connections can deliver speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second (Gbps).
The planned infrastructure will bring major benefits to health and care service providers and schools and colleges. For example, offer patients online video consultations with health and social care professionals, reducing the need for travel, and enabling schools greater scope to share teaching materials online.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “The awarding of this contract is a further sign of our commitment to creating a strong digital infrastructure in the county.
“Better digital connectivity is a significant factor in creating and maintaining successful local economies and communities, nowhere more so than in North Yorkshire’s rural areas. High-quality digital communications enable us to ignore geographic distances and help to overcome rural remoteness and isolation.”
Matt Warman, Minister for Digital and Broadband said: “The Government is investing over £650m to future-proof our communities and boost the economy with fast, reliable internet connections.
"That includes more than £15m to make sure public services across North Yorkshire can benefit from this revolution in connectivity and I’m very pleased work is about to kick off.”
The target is to complete the project by March 2021. The full fibre infrastructure is expected to stimulate further commercial investment to deliver more gigabit-capable connectivity in the county.
The areas where the public buildings are located are: Harrogate and Knaresborough; Skipton; Northallerton; Ripon; Richmond; Leyburn; Scarborough; Malton and Norton; Whitby; Easingwold; Thirsk; Selby; Tadcaster; Pickering; Stokesley and Great Ayton; and Settle.