Rural communities in the Yorkshire Dales benefit from lightning-fast internet links | New


Super-fast broadband technology has been brought to one of the most remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales in the latest phase of a multimillion-pound scheme to tackle the digital divide in North Yorkshire.

The pioneering project was launched in Coverdale, which sits in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and is bringing state-of-the-art internet connections to a succession of villages.

The £6.4m Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY) initiative, which has been partly funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, will help create new businesses in the area deeply rural, while helping existing businesses thrive.

The project is seen as a particular boost to the tourism sector, which is a cornerstone of the Yorkshire Dales economy and the region’s £9billion visitor industry.

It is also seen as a key part of the government’s upgrading program, which aims to tackle regional inequalities across the country and help bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

Our Executive Member for Digital Connectivity, Cllr Greg White, said: “North Yorkshire is leading the way in the development of new 5G technology. This network will strengthen our rural communities and help our tourism economy grow even more prosperous.

“We are committed to supporting businesses and households with the best services and would like to thank all of our partners in the groundbreaking MANY project, which has the potential to be replicated in all rural communities.”

The initiative is supported by a consortium of which we are part and has been deployed in Coverdale, a steep valley at the far east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The valley is home to a number of small villages, including Carlton, West Scrafton, Melmerby and Agglethorpe, and has a population of 1,000 people.

Due to its remote location, Coverdale has suffered from poor connectivity with broadband speeds five times slower than the national average, putting local businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The new super-fast broadband network will create opportunities for businesses to improve engagement with visitors as well as the potential to increase revenue. Business owners will be able to strengthen their online presence and adopt the latest cloud-based software to increase innovation, productivity and profitability.

The award-winning tourist attraction, The Forbidden Corner, is among the first companies to benefit. It uses super-fast broadband technology to enhance the attraction with augmented reality applications in its maze of tunnels, chambers and follies.

Another business that will benefit is The Saddle Rooms, a hospitality and wedding venue, which uses connectivity to attract, recruit and retain high-quality staff and improve communications across its 400-acre site.

In addition, the superfast broadband network will be used to improve health and wellbeing by combating loneliness and isolation and connecting Coverdale residents to digital NHS services.

It will also be used to monitor roads to protect against the devastation of flash floods, which severely affected parts of the Yorkshire Dales following a deluge in July 2019.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “My priority is to upgrade rural areas with the same connectivity that cities enjoy, and that is exactly what we are doing at Coverdale by funding this new 5G network.

“The benefits for the territory are enormous. Local tourist attractions have already been ushered into the 21st century using state-of-the-art augmented reality technology, and the network will connect those suffering from loneliness and limit flood damage by monitoring local road conditions.

“This is just part of our plan to put rural Yorkshire on the digital fast lane through our £5 billion Gigabit project which brings premium broadband to communities across the region.”

Quickline Communications Ltd, the East Riding-based internet service provider, is currently offering 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) connectivity up to nine kilometers from the nearest mast with ambitions to extend this up to 18 kilometers as the technology matures.

Quickline Communications Managing Director Sean Royce said, “This is a perfect example of how we provide life-changing services to individuals, businesses and communities in rural areas that were previously ignored by d other suppliers.

“Having fast and reliable internet is an absolute necessity, and this project will ensure that the connectivity received in this part of North Yorkshire will far exceed even that enjoyed by others in many UK towns.

“It’s also vital for the leveling of the North. Rural businesses can start to compete with other regions on an equal footing and this will open up new markets for them.

“People can confidently work from home, kids and students can access online classes and lectures, they can socialize, stream music, listen to podcasts and watch TV, and shop. on line.

“These are all basic needs and wants – and we’re delighted to be leading the way for communities in the more isolated parts of North Yorkshire.”

The North Yorkshire Rural Commission, which we set up to examine potential solutions to a host of issues affecting the countryside, has claimed that digital connectivity for internet and mobile coverage is now a ‘basic human right’ in the 21st century.

A final report by the Independent Commission published in July last year warned that online connectivity in rural North Yorkshire is lagging behind urban areas, hampering economic growth and leaving tens of thousands of companies and households affected by technological black spots.

Research by the North Yorkshire Rural Commission found that a fifth of all rural areas in the county have no broadband connection, compared to 7% in urban areas.

Among the proposals put forward by the commission to tackle the tech divide was a digital inclusion group set up by national park authorities for the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has also been asked to give higher priority to digital inclusion in rural communities and to use the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund to define a strategic approach for the North Yorkshire and other sparsely populated areas.

Efforts are already underway to help boost connectivity after the County Council invested £85million and launched a company, NYnet Ltd, to improve digital and broadband services in North Yorkshire.

A Rural Task Force has been set up by North Yorkshire County Council which plans to take forward the Rural Commission’s recommendations and is due to publish a report later this year.

The consortium overseeing the superfast broadband project includes aql ltd, Cybermoor 5G Services, Flo-culture, Lancaster University, Quickline Communications, SafeNetics, York University and Wireless Coverage.

The MANY project is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s 5G Testbeds and Trials program. The government provided £4.4 million in funding, with the remaining £2 million coming from private companies involved in the initiative.

The Forbidden Corner case study: Tourist attraction brings virtual flair with new superfast broadband

With its origins dating back over 40 years, The Forbidden Corner remains one of the country’s most original tourist attractions.

The brainchild of Colin Armstrong, the owner of the Tupgill Estate, it was originally built as a private folly, with initial work carried out to plant a kindling in 1979.

The site opened to the public on July 23, 1994, when 100 visitors attended the Coverdale attraction in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Set in a four-acre garden at the heart of the estate, The Forbidden Corner now attracts up to 120,000 visitors each year who make their way through its maze of tunnels, chambers and follies.

Attraction staff took the opportunity to use new state-of-the-art internet connections that were introduced to serve Coverdale’s remote communities.

They have launched a digital quest, which aims to improve the visitor experience by bringing the attraction’s characters to life virtually via 5G-enabled augmented reality.

Forbidden Corner manager Darren Weatherill said: “Our clientele is loyal and we get a high proportion of visitors who return again and again.

“We’ve always wanted to be able to offer them more, keeping the attraction exciting and engaging, but until recently we’ve always lacked the connectivity to really explore that opportunity.”

In conjunction with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbed and Trials Project and the North Yorkshire mobile access (MANY), the attraction is one of the first sites to use the new network, which went into service at the north end of Coverdale in late January.

It is currently being rolled out in a wider superfast broadband scheme across the county, which is overseen by North Yorkshire County Council.

Mr. Weatherill added: “The work we have done with the MANY project has allowed us to deliver a digital quest based on our previous traditional brass rubbing.

“The app uses the latest technology to bring some of The Forbidden Corner’s characters to life, whether it’s our frogs from Froggy Fountain or the dragon, who greets you when you arrive.”

Staff at The Forbidden Corner worked with officials from Flo-culturepartner of the MANY project and specialist in the development of audience engagement applications.

Flo-culture Managing Director Katherine Pearson said, “The 5G network allows us to immerse visitors to Forbidden Corner in a real-time augmented reality experience. The uniqueness of The Forbidden Corner will come to life in a whole new way.

“This is one of our solutions that will help the attraction meet the expectations of today’s visitors: reliable mobile connectivity and access to enhanced experiences through their own mobile devices.”

Mr. Weatherill added: “We have worked hard with the Flo-culture team and the MANY project during our off season to develop something we are proud of, and the feedback we have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive. . We hope customers who are due to come during the summer months will love it as much as we do, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to experience this new development.

Visitors who have already tried the app have said that the new technology has improved experiences at The Forbidden Corner.

Cassandra Kitchin, from Morecambe, who visited the attraction with her husband, Roy, and their granddaughter, Angelica Walker, said the app was “really fun”.

And Kylie Simms, who lives near Bedale and visited The Forbidden Corner with partner Callum Bowness, said: ‘I really enjoyed the app – I especially enjoyed taking photos of Callum with the dragon.


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