SDF aims to support projects that will improve access to broadband across the whole of the National Park. In the last couple of years, it has helped get a number of community broadband schemes off the ground. A case study and some other recent examples feature below.
Superfast broadband reaches out
Broadband is critically important for remote rural communities like those in the National Park.
High quality broadband has multiple benefits, making an area more attractive to new businesses, allowing existing businesses to improve their services and extend their reach, and empowering communities to access web-based facilities to overcome some of the challenges caused by their remoteness.
In recent years huge strides have been made in increasing access across the National Park as a result of the Government-subsidised ‘Connecting Cumbria’ and ‘Superfast North Yorkshire’ projects.
Previously, just 6% of premises had broadband access. By the time the second phase of the initiative completes in June 2017, this figure will have risen to 86%.
Other airborne schemes help to reach some of the remaining 14% of premises or provide a choice for those with a fixed line service. But parts of the National Park remain beyond existing or planned provision or suffer from limited usability.
A number of communities have decided to take matters into their own hands and look at alternative superfast broadband.
Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) is a registered community benefit society. This sees communities raise the investment required to provide the network, while reducing costs through voluntary labour and a more cost-effective means of installing the underground fibre cable.
The B4RN model has proved to be very successful and is expanding all the time. Ireby’s project coordinator, Tim Hancock, said: "The B4RN hyperfast broadband project will provide a lifeline to isolated communities such as ours, who suffer from very slow broadband speeds and frequent outages.
“Whether for schoolkids’ homework, working from home, shopping or just leisure, the village now has a secure future - it is like electricity arriving in the 1930s. The Authority’s grant was a key element to making this a reality."
Other completed projects
- A community led superfast B4RN broadband scheme for Ireby which connects to a similar scheme in Masongill (£5,000)
- A contribution towards the installation of superfast (B4RN) broadband for Barbondale and the neighbouring village of Middleton (£9,990)
- The installation of a broadband communications node at Dent Primary School to enable a connection to the core B4RN network in Barbondale (£11,300)
- A community led broadband project that provides an air based broadband system using wi fi and antennae to enable connections for businesses and householders in Upper Raydale (£5,000)
And in the pipeline...
- Installation of infrastructure to enable a superfast (B4RN) broadband connection for Thornton in Lonsdale, Westhouse and Kingsdale (£10,000)
- Installation of infrastructure to enable a superfast (B4RN) broadband connection for Casterton (£9,950)
- Installation of infrastructure to enable a superfast (B4RN) broadband connection for Chapel le Dale (£9,950)
- Installation of infrastructure to enable a superfast (B4RN) broadband connection for Clapham (£10,000)
- An air based broadband system that will use wi fi and antennae to enable connections to businesses and householders in Lower Raydale. This scheme will compliment a similar scheme in Upper Raydale (£4,000)