A Government minister said last night that the 5G pilot scheme in Coverdale is “great news” for residents.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman was speaking after national park planners approved a communications pole in West Scrafton which will allow the initiative to go-ahead.
Members voted unanimously bin favour of the pole despite opposition from some residents.
Mr Warman said: “Our multi-million pound investment means rural Coverdale will soon enjoy lightning fast internet access.
“The project’s cutting-edge technology will produce stronger signal using fewer masts and this means we can preserve the natural beauty of the Dales while fulfilling our commitment to level up the region.
“This is great news for residents and I look forward to sharing what we’ve learned with other areas across the country.”
The project aims to go live with the network in April/May 2021 when officials say residents will be able to utilise ultrafast broadband and mobile data outside the home.
The second phase of the project will see the consortium working to develop roaming agreements with mobile network operators to offer a conventional 3/4G mobile signal.
The £6.4million project is part-funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with the remainder coming from commercial partners.
Experts say the scheme will use a software system and mapping database called WISDM – owned by MANY partner Wireless Coverage – whixh has allowed the project to gain an understanding of how specific frequency signals are likely to cover a selected area.
This has meant that only one mast is needed in Coverdale itself – at West Scrafton – to cover the northern area with a further two being erected outside of the dale.
This will link back to Quickline Communications’ – the lead partner of the MANY consortium – backhaul near the A1.
Steve Jagger, CEO of Quickline Communications Ltd, said: “We are pleased that we have secured permission from the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Quickline Communications’ core business is bringing ultrafast connectivity to rural areas.
“We pride ourselves in working sensitively to the uniqueness of these areas, making sure masts are discreet on the landscape.”
North Yorkshire County Councillor’s executive member for access, Cllr Don Mackenzie, said: “This planning permission is very good news for all residents of Coverdale who have for a long time been looking for better broadband and mobile phone coverage.
“At the same time, the County Council recognises the need to protect the local environment, and the work of the MANY partners has ensured that there is minimal effect on the local landscape with this 5G project.”
Objectors to the scheme said the non-ionising radiation from the masts would be harmful to human health and would affect the park’s landscapes and ecology.