Quickline Communications, a subsidiary of Bigblu Broadband plc, is to lead a £6 million project to boost rural connectivity in North Yorkshire. Other partners include a mix of specialist small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the universities of York and Lancaster.
Currently, mobile coverage in North Yorkshire is patchy, with 35% of the population having no 4G mobile coverage. This has an impact on residents, businesses and key industries (such as tourism).
North Yorkshire County Council has stated that enhancing 4G in the county is a critical issue, both economically and socially, and has repeatedly made attempts to address the situation. For example, it identified a number of areas, including Leyburn, Masham, Selby, Appletreewick, Skipton on Swalen and West Tanfield where connectivity was poor and offered mobile operators free masts and exemptions from business rates for up to seven years. However, despite its efforts the council has expressed frustration at the response from the industry and the ongoing problem of poor connectivity.
This new £6 million project is designed to address this frustrating situation and will test how superfast mobile connectivity can benefit North Yorkshire in boosting tourism, tackling social isolation and acting as an early warning system for flooding emergencies, such as those currently being experienced. The project has secured £4.5 million of Government funding, with a further £2 million being added by industry partners. It is a continuation of the technical partners’ previous work with the 5G Rural Integrated Testbed project (5GRIT), and will investigate how rural mobile connectivity can help eliminate the Not Spots of North Yorkshire by developing new technologies, apps and services tailored for rural areas.
It aims to understand how public, private and community sectors can work together to reduce the cost of delivering mobile access in rural areas. The project is supported by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), as part of the 5G Rural Connected Communities Trials and Testbed programme – a £30 million programme that supports national projects to determine how best to use 5G to deliver services across the UK.
Steve Jagger, Chief Executive of Quickline Communications, commented: “Quickline’s mission is to use innovation in equipment and approach to bring ubiquitous coverage of high-speed data and associated services across the harder to reach parts of the country. We’re pleased to be part of a project that shares these values and outcomes, and are excited by the opportunity to push the boundaries further.”