Ultrafast broadband ‘breathes new life’ into historic village of Thornton Rust

An historic village mentioned in the Domesday Book is celebrating the arrival of ultrafast broadband after initially missing out on the rollout of high speed broadband.

An historic village mentioned in the Domesday Book is celebrating the arrival of ultrafast broadband after initially missing out on the rollout of high speed broadband.

More than 60 households in the small rural Richmondshire village of Thornton Rust now have access to fibre-to-the-premises technology (FTTP) offering speeds up to 330Mbps, thanks to the Superfast North Yorkshire project.

The Dales village lies too far from the local telephone exchange to benefit from fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) superfast broadband technology, in which fibre optic cables run from the exchange to street cabinets. So engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, instead made a connection using even faster FTTP, where the optical fibre runs directly into the home.

The village is just one of around 70 communities across North Yorkshire that have been connected up to high speed broadband using FTTP technology, providing high speed access to more than 7,800 homes and businesses.

Resident Mark Sheard, who has already signed up to a fibre broadband service, said the arrival of fibre would breathe new life into the village by helping to attract young families to move to the area and support small businesses.

The retired brewery director said: “I’m 70 but a relative youngster here. Faster broadband is vitally important to a small village like ours. There has been a shift in the population with younger people moving away and one reason is lack of decent communications. It is an influencing factor if you’re looking to buy a home in a rural area and will help to attract younger people with families to the village to help keep it a thriving community in the future.

“If you’ve got a decent broadband speed at home, it gives you the choice to work from home, especially when it might be a long commute to the office, or even to set up your own business venture. It is also important for youngsters now who increasingly need good internet access for their schoolwork and studies.”

Mark said fibre was also helping to bring the existing village community closer together. “There’s a chap who produces the village newsletter, which can now circulate more easily on email. Before, he had to trail round the village delivering paper copies.

“It’s now much easier for villagers to stay in touch with each other online as well as with the outside world. Because people are generally older and are not so mobile – a lot are now doing their shopping online and getting it delivered to their front door.”

Mark, who switched to fibre a month ago, saw his broadband speed leap from 1.5Mbps to 76Mbps and is already reaping the benefits.

He said: “We have three sons all with grandchildren who live away – two near London. They’re too far away to visit often so we use Skype a lot and email to keep in touch. Before, downloading things like family photos was a joke – it took so long I might as well have driven down and seen them in person. Skype was hopeless – the picture broke up and the connection kept dropping out. Now it is razor sharp with no interference.

“Having fibre has moved the whole village into the 21st century – before, it really did feel like living in the age of steam power.”

Councillor Carl Les, chairman of Superfast North Yorkshire, said: ““Bringing superfast broadband to rural areas is a challenge. Working in partnership with BT we have demonstrated that challenges can be overcome and the benefits of the latest broadband technology can be felt in some of our most remote communities.”

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, added: “Fibre-to-the-premises technology is just one of the ways we can overcome the challenges of reaching more remote, less populated communities like Thornton Rust and demonstrates our commitment to making high-speed fibre broadband as widely available as possible.”

The multi-million pound partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and BT has already made the new technology available to more than182,667 homes and businesses across the county – and the number is continuing to grow.

All of the engineering work is being carried out by Openreach but as the network is open it provides residents and businesses with access to fibre broadband via a wide range of internet service providers, offering the benefit of competitive pricing and products.

Following the completion of phase one of the roll-out in Spring 2015, work on the second phase is now well underway. By mid-2017 a further 15,000 households and businesses will be able to access high speed fibre broadband services.

North Yorkshire County Council has agreed funding of £20.5 million for phase three of its Superfast North Yorkshire programme to take superfast coverage up to 95-96 per cent of the county.Up to £12 million will come from the authority’s own funds, £7.3 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and £1 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This comes on top of the £34.5 million for phases one and two.

The Superfast North Yorkshire project was the first in the UK to deploy fibre broadband using funds from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme following the signing of a contract between North Yorkshire County Council and BT in July 2012. BT was chosen as the private sector partner in the project following an extensive selection process by the county council.