Coverdale informs future rural connectivity

Residents of Coverdale, Richmondshire will soon have the opportunity to be involved in testing the latest 5G technology, as part of the Mobile Access North Yorkshire project (MANY), a £6million Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 5G Testbed and Trials initiative that aims to bring mobile connectivity to rural areas that currently lack it.

Following successful discussions with local parish and town councils and initial conversations with community members, as well as an assessment of the areas current mobile coverage, Coverdale has been identified as the first location in North Yorkshire that will work with MANY.

The project will now develop these conversations further and is keen to hear more stories from residents about how a lack of connectivity affects their lives. Stories and information gathered will inform how the MANY project builds and enables, initially, a 5G fixed wireless access network providing residents with ultra-high-speed broadband and a private 4G mobile network.

As the project progresses a 5G phone network will be added giving residents the chance to test new technology, as and when it comes onto the market, to find out how the latest wireless technology can further enhance their future.

In order to ensure that the community is not left behind again, the MANY project, led by Quickline Communications Ltd, will work with the Mobile Network Operators to develop an agreement which will look to sustain digital connectivity past the end of the project.

Digital connectivity has become even more important to people’s lives since the Covid-19 pandemic, as more turn online to keep in touch, carry on working and keep businesses accessible. However, many rural communities have struggled to keep connected because of the lack of digital infrastructure.

Howard Thomas, Chairman of Carlton Town Parish Council said: “We are delighted to be taking part in the trial for 5G.  Mobile phone signal is becoming an essential part of people’s everyday life but it is non-existent in most of Coverdale. To be able to obtain a signal will have many benefits including attracting new residents and businesses to the area as well as the safety implications from living in such rural countryside.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor, Local Member for Coverdale, Karin Sedgwick commented: “For so long areas like Coverdale haven’t been able to use the technology the majority of us take for granted. I am pleased that the MANY project can see the potential of Coverdale and hope that the community and the surrounding areas embrace this unique and exciting opportunity”.

Steve Jagger, CEO of Quickline Communications Ltd, said: “This is an excellent step forward for the project. We are so pleased that the Coverdale community have come on-board. The next step of the project, however, is for us to listen and understand how having no mobile signal has affected residents. This will enable the project to build the right network and find the right mobile solutions. We look forward to working closely with the community and – together – really influencing the future of rural connectivity through offering new ways to the Government.”

County Councillor Don MacKenzie, Executive Member for Access said: “At the moment, over a third of the geography of our county lacks 4G mobile coverage. That is why this project offers a really exciting opportunity to close that gap and to explore the full potential of 5G access in our more remote areas. I am very pleased that the residents of Coverdale are keen to join in with the MANY project, and to help us unlock the enormous potential of our rural communities”.

MANY is keen to hear from Coverdale residents and are asked to contact the team via our contact us form, email or call 0300 404 4444.