THE roll-out of high-quality broadband continues across North Yorkshire.

Recently, I was in Picton, north of Northallerton, to see work completed on a connection which will see residents able to access speeds defined as ultrafast – for the technically-minded that’s more than 100mbs.

It puts an end to the problems residents have had, for example with crashing and buffering when streaming content, and does so by using a hybrid technical solution of wireless and fibre.

I have been helping the village to get a better connection for some time and I know how frustrating it can be. It was good to meet some of them during my visit including Jenny Cookson-Teall of Picton Parish Meeting and bring them the good news.

It has always been my belief that people in rural areas like ours should not be disadvantaged on the digital highway because of where we live. But there’s no getting away from the technical challenge a very rural area with so many widely dispersed villages, hamlets and home/farmsteads presents. The Government recognises that challenge and that is why it has invested many billions into the roll-out of the existing superfast broadband programme.

Another £5bn has been earmarked for Project Gigabit, the next step in the broadband revolution which will benefit more than 500,000 rural premises – many of them in North Yorkshire – by subsidising connections capable of delivering speeds of up 1,000mbs to some of the most isolated communities.

The technical solution developed for Picton under the existing superfast programme led by North Yorkshire County Council will be the default method for similar communities still waiting for superfast. It works by connecting homes and businesses to the central cabinet in the centre of the village either by fibre or a wireless signal beamed to outlying premises.

That means that regardless of whether your home is 50 yards from the cabinet or a mile or more you will still get a minimum of 50bps. Many more communities will benefit from this technology in the coming months.

STILL on matters digital, last week the Government announced a scheme designed to support smaller businesses in adopting digital technologies so they can grow.

Help to Grow: Digital is aimed at small businesses with less than 250 employees which make up the vast bulk of companies in North Yorkshire.

Under the scheme, eligible businesses can now receive discounts of up to £5,000 off the retail price of approved digital accounting and customer relationship management software from leading technology suppliers. This software will help them to effectively manage their finances and build customer relationships.

Businesses can also access practical, specialised support and advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity.

I announced this initiative in last year’s Budget but the scheme is now open for applications and you can find out more here