Hundreds of rural businesses will connect to superfast broadband

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is investing £9.1m to enable more than 1,700 businesses in rural areas to connect to superfast broadband.

The programme, which is being delivered by Quickline Communications, will target businesses based in more isolated areas of West Yorkshire and York that are unable to access existing super and ultrafast broadband connections of at least 30 megabits per second.

Quickline Communications uses a combination of fibre and wireless technologies, including both fixed wireless access (FWA) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) to deliver superfast, ultrafast and in some cases, gigabit speeds.

Quickline is focused on delivering improved broadband connectivity in the rural areas of Northern England, where a significant digital divide remains and hundreds of thousands of premises are in need of increased broadband speeds.

Although the primary aim of the programme is to develop businesses through better connectivity, some residential customers in those areas will also benefit from the coverage, through improved access to online services, the ability to work remotely and enhanced social connections.

The investment is expected to add £20m to the Leeds City Region economy over the next 10 years as faster broadband speeds enable existing businesses to grow and encourage new businesses to start up.

This is the third phase of the Superfast West Yorkshire and York Broadband programme which has so far enabled more than 100,000 businesses and homes to access high speed connections.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, chairman of the Combined Authority and leader of Bradford Council, said: “The need for reliable, high speed broadband connections has never been more important than over the past few months when millions of us have been working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Once complete, this investment will enable businesses to work effectively no matter where they’re based and enable more people who can, to work effectively from home and commute less.”

Roger Marsh

Roger Marsh, chairman of the LEP and of the NP11 , said: “This next phase of the Superfast West Yorkshire and York Broadband programme is the final piece in the jigsaw and will allow our City Region to enjoy 99% connectivity to high-speed broadband.

“The digital economy is now worth around £6.5bn to the Leeds City Region and we’re frequently named as the best place in the UK to start and grow a business.

“This investment will enable more homegrown start-ups to thrive and encourage more companies to set up here creating the jobs and growth we need to fuel our recovery from the recent pandemic.”

The programme will be funded by £6.898m from DEFRA, through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, £1.464m from Quickline Communications and £748,000 from the Combined Authority.

It is also being supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Steve Jagger, CEO of Quickline, said: “We’re excited to be working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and City of York to deliver high speed internet to local, hard to reach areas.

“We understand the challenges of delivering rural broadband services. That is why we pride ourselves on delivering flexible, hybrid innovative solutions.”