THE WHOLE of Yorkshire will have broadband internet coverage by the end of the year, according to Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, announcing that it is awarding £2.2 million in grants to launch the project.
Broadband is now considered by many small rural businesses to be a key tool for future expansion - but for more than two years, British Telecom has been fighting a rearguard action to avoid installing transmission equipment in small country telephone exchanges.
But after long negotiations between Yorkshire Forward, BT and Adit, the regional procurement agency, the new funding will allow all telephone exchanges to be wired. It will make Yorkshire and the Humber one of the few areas in the UK to have 100% coverage.
Yorkshire Forward has also liaised closely with the community groups that have already established networks in these locations, using alternative technologies, to ensure that they can work with service providers to offer their customers access to improved services.
The agreement marks a major victory for various organizations that have campaigned for better rural broadband coverage, including Daelnet, farmers' organizations and the Country Land and Business Association.