Broadband ‘pub crawl’ to call time for ‘superfast orders please!’

A string of 20 pubs across the Upper Dales will be helping to brew up interest in superfast broadband as part of a promotional campaign launched by the Superfast North Yorkshire programme.

A string of 20 pubs across the Upper Dales will be helping to brew up interest in superfast broadband as part of a promotional campaign launched by the Superfast North Yorkshire programme.

Members of the Superfast North Yorkshire project team will be stopping off at village pubs for tea and sandwiches - along a sixteen mile route from Hardraw to Leyburn in a bid to encourage local residents to sign up to high-speed fibre broadband.

Team members will be commandeering a minibus from the region’s Little White Bus service to make their journey – dropping in to pubs along the route to give out promotional material and to talk to local people about the benefits of high-speed broadband.

Members of the public are invited to join the team at the first stop along the route at the Green Dragon on Wednesday October 21 at 10.30am. The team will then hold further community drop-in sessions at the White Rose in Askrigg at 1pm, the Fox and Hounds in West Burton at 3pm, and the Golden Lion at Leyburn at 5.30pm.* Local people are invited to come along and meet the team to discover more about how and why they should sign up for faster broadband speeds.

Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, said: “Superfast North Yorkshire has been doing outstanding work in ensuring that the Dales are connected to the modern digital economy.

“But we can’t afford to be complacent. For every home without a decent broadband connection there is a child is unable to complete their homework or a farmer is unable to apply for their single payments. Making sure that people take up broadband in areas where it is already available is a vital step if we are going to secure the local funds necessary to connect the “final 5 per cent” as quickly as possible and I welcome the work Superfast North Yorkshire is doing to promote this goal.”

More than 5,000 homes and businesses across the Upper Dales are now able to enjoy faster broadband on tap, with around one in five premises already signing up to a superfast service.

One business already benefitting from faster broadband is the Green Dragon Inn, in Hardraw, which will also hosting the launch of the digital ‘pub crawl’.

Innkeeper Martin Helstrip said: “Having superfast means we can offer our customers free wi-fi when they come into the pub. We are right on the Pennine Way so are visited by many walkers, cyclists and sightseers. Some just want to see the pub, which dates from the 13th century. The pub grounds are home to the Hardraw Scaur Waterfall, England’s largest single drop waterfall, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors a year, all of whom come through the pub. The wi-fi is incredibly popular with guests who want to check in with family or work during their stay, or just post photos of the sights. It’s a great way of using social media to promote the area and what the pub has to offer.”

Martin added he was planning to extend the wi-fi to hotel rooms and holiday apartments attached to the pub. “In today’s digital world it’s a service you just can’t do without,” he said.

Fibre broadband first arrived in the Dales in Autumn last year. The task to get the fibre technology from the telephone exchange in Leyburn to Hardraw involved building the longest fibre feed or ‘spine’ of the Superfast North Yorkhire roll-out to date. The promotional ‘pub crawl’ will roughly follow the route of the record breaking 17 mile-long spine. The mammoth engineering task involved clearing more than 100 blockages in underground ducts, with giant vacuums brought in 15 times to clear silt and debris washed into the ducts in an area which, being high in the Pennines, gets more than its fair share of rainfall.

The digital spine feeds 19 fibre enabled green roadside cabinets, connecting up 13 villages along the route including Hawes, Hardraw, Sedbusk, Bainbridge, Gunnerside, Reeth, Redmire, Leyburn, Middleham, Thoralby, Newbiggin, Wensley and Askrigg. A further batch of villages will be connected up to fibre, in the coming months, as part of the second rollout phase of the Superfast North Yorkshire project, including Muker, Aysgarth, Thornton Rust and Carperby.

Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “The Little White Bus service was set up to help prevent isolation in the deeply rural communities by providing links to nearby market towns. So it is fitting that it is being used to help promote fibre broadband which provides a vital digital link to the outside world.

“Tourism is a key sector in the Dales and fibre broadband can give those businesses involved in the industry the edge as the Green Dragon has proven. Fibre levels the playing field for our deeply rural communities, allowing them to compete with the more populated areas of the country – the towns and the cities. For example, a faster connection enables people to work from home so they can stay living and working in their local community – helping to support the local economy.But its not just about business, as more educational resources become web-based, country children risk falling behind their urban counterparts. The arrival of superfast broadband really is a transformational game-changer for the remoter communities here in the Upper Dales.”

Tom Keeney, regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, added: “Every day the number of existing and new services delivered to us online, whether designed to entertain, educate or meet our daily needs, is growing. Content and applications will only get more sophisticated until superfast broadband will become vital for carrying out all your essential tasks online. That’s why I would urge anyone who now has access to fibre to get online superfast.”

BT’s network is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies offering broadband services so North Yorkshire households and businesses will benefit from a choice of superfast services from a range of Internet Service Providers.

In May, Superfast North Yorkshire completed the first phase of its rollout to 150,000 homes and businesses. Close to 90 per centof the county’s 380,000 premises are now able to get high speed broadband - when the private sector’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband is also taken into account.

Work is well underway on the next phase of the Superfast North Yorkshire project with £8 million in additional funding to make high speed broadband available to another 10,400 homes and businesses by the end of 2016.

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

. The deployment of fibre broadband by the Superfast North Yorkshire project is in addition to around 200,000 North Yorkshire properties able to access fibre as a result of BT’s £2.5 billion commercial roll-out programme across the UK.

BT was chosen as the private sector partner in the project following an extensive selection process by the County Council. BT is contributing £10 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas whilst the county council is using its £17.8 million share of BDUK funds and a further £8.6 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund[1] for the first phase of the project.