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 held at Ripon Racecourse.
The campaign is supported by every Member of Parliament from across North Yorkshire and York including Foreign Secretary William Hague who recorded a video interview for the event.
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.
Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said:
“The campaign is great news for Harrogate and Knaresborough. Superfast broadband in North Yorkshire will mean improved communications capabilities for many local businesses and individuals, placing them in a better trading position and encouraging growth.
“As industry moves towards increased online trading, it is important that our local area does not get left behind. The government’s decision to pilot the roll-out of superfast broadband here ensures that we are at the forefront of this nationwide race for superfast internet connection.”
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.”
A date was set for the next Broadband North Yorkshire Conference in one year’s time to assess the progress made as more of the County connect to broadband. It will take place at Ripon Racecourse on Saturday 11 February 2012.