Connecting Shropshire

March 27, 2013 / 21 comments / Permalink

£24.6m deal signed to bring faster broadband evolution to Shropshire

Related topics: Funding

High-speed fibre broadband is set to become available to more than 90 per cent of Shropshire homes and businesses within the next three years as a result of a multi-million pound partnership project between Shropshire Council and BT.

The Connecting Shropshire project will build on BT’s commercial investment so that 93 per cent of premises across Shropshire*, more than130,000 premises, should have access to broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps by the end of Spring 2016.  As a result of the contract, all premises covered by the project will receive a minimum of 2Mbps.

During the course of the rollout BT may use Connecting Shropshire as a test bed for developing fibre innovations and other broadband technologies designed to boost speeds even further.

Shropshire is one of England’s most rural and sparsely populated counties and so the project will transform broadband speeds across the county.  According to Ofcom, the county’s average downstream speed is currently 8.2Mbps, whilst 17.1 per cent of premises receive less than 2Mbps.

BT has been chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process.  The company is contributing £8.6m towards the deployment in “non-commercial” areas, whilst Shropshire Council is contributing £8.2m, with £7.84m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.

George Candler, Shropshire Council’s director of commissioning, said:

“We have been working hard, through our Connecting Shropshire project, to drive forward improvements to broadband provision for residents and businesses, so we are delighted to have reached this point.  We look forward to working closely with BT over the coming years to ensure people start seeing the benefits of faster broadband even in the remote, rural parts of our county.”

Nick Chavasse MBE, Shropshire Business Board champion for broadband, said:

“Reliable and fast broadband connection is fundamental for business growth.  I am delighted that Shropshire Council has embraced this project and is fully committed to driving it through as soon as possible.  Fast broadband connectivity will help our businesses to prosper and in turn help to increase employment across the county.  Poor broadband is a barrier to growth, and the plan to roll out fast broadband to the business community, in particular, is crucial to the success of our economic growth strategy.  We will continue to work with, and offer our full support to, this ambitious partnership programme.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, commented:

“Shropshire is one of the most rural counties in England, but access to fast broadband speeds is just as important here as it is in our major cities.  This project will deliver all the benefits of superfast broadband to Shropshire homes and business, providing a tremendous boost to the local economy.”

Bill Murphy, managing director NGA for BT, added:

“This is fantastic news for the people of Shropshire.  As communications technologies evolve it is really important that communities across the county are able to evolve with them, which is fitting since Charles Darwin is surely Shropshire’s most famous son.

“Fibre broadband will bring Shropshire’s predominantly rural economy into the digital fast lane – revitalising small towns, villages and hamlets by making it possible to start and run a connected business from these locations and, in the long-term, ensuring local people don’t suffer from a digital divide.”

Engineers for Openreach, BT’s local network business, will build the new fibre infrastructure.  Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed.  This delivers wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas.

The new fibre based network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis**.  Households and businesses in Shropshire will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers.  It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.

Superfast broadband benefits include users being able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time, and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently.  New fibre services are set to transform the way consumers use the Internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available online.

For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications.  Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes.  Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become a viable possibility.

The project team will be working closely with parish and town councils to ensure that local communities are able to make the most of improved broadband speeds and the new and exciting opportunities this project brings to Shropshire.

Further information

*Does not include the Telford and Wrekin Council area

**Openreach provides external CPs (Communications Providers) with a variety of ways in which they can offer fibre broadband to their customers.  These include an ‘active’ product – GEA – which comes in various speed combinations and a ‘passive’ product – PIA – whereby CPs can lay their own fibre via BT’s ducts and poles if they want greater control over the service they offer.

21 comments

  1. We currently cannot get broadband a speed check shows 0.3Mps.
    Even 1Mps would be a miracle.
    As we are 17 miles from exchange can’t see BT forking out to lay cables for a handful of properties.
    Currently resort to using supermarket wifi when shopping well every little helps!

  2. Presumably, that will only be to the cabinet and that, as in my case, any of the old aluminium cored cabling from the cabinet to the premises which reduces my 76Mb Infinity by half will continue to cause substantial reductions in performance.

  3. Re L Pugh post, fibre does not replace copper and both technologies will continue to be used in tandem. I do think that the BT / Shropshire Council announcement is grossly misleading because FTTC will not guarantee improved speeds when the issue of poor infrastructure between the cabinet and premises remains. Typical spin.

  4. Just another thought – why is all the money being spent on getting speeds of 24Mbps and perhaps upward of 50 or 60Mbps for certian customers – why not spend some of the money to help the people who cannot even get a decent speed of 2Mbps first.

    The people who are currently getting upwards of 10Mbps or so are obviously coping and the speed is adequate so why do we have to wait longer and longer to get even 2Mbps at the expense of the lucky ones. Spend some of the money replacing the copper to where they are not putting fibre so that it will help the likes of us!

    • According to the FAQ’s and headlines all premises will have access to a basic level of broadband as well as 93% getting fibre and 87% receiving Superfast. Surely that seems good for everyone or am I missing something?

  5. The FTTC scheme to Trefonen which was supposed to have taken place last year has still not happened. I currently have a problem and BT tell me if and when the project actually happens I will probably not benefit in Treflach, about 1 mile away, due to the very poor condition of the copper cable between Trefonen and Treflach!

    I will believe this if it ever happens as BT seem to just push it further and further back.

  6. Thanks for the comments. There are no specific details yet about which areas will be upgraded when, so please bear with us. There are lots of questions and answers here which will give you more information: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/faqs/

    The Connecting Shropshire team

  7. Great news.
    Any dates set for Broseley and Highley?
    Thanks

  8. Just hope that you live somewhere with lots of businesses as they will decide on what speed you end up with according to the commercial viability of the cabinet!

  9. at what point will i know whether my home will benefit from this development ?

  10. we currently have to use satellite (expensive) broadband but it would be useful to know if usable conventional broadband is ever likely to make an appearance in this neck of the south shropshire /powys border woods before we sink yet more funds into improving our satellite connection.How will we find out ? parish councils ?

  11. Any specific details yet, or news of who will get what and when? I’m being a bit pessimistic about it all given that only 93% will be getting decent speeds.

  12. I have an engineering consultancy where I often need to download large files, drawings, etc. I barely have 1Mbps which makes this difficult. BT tell me I’m so far from the Exchange, it’s unlikely I’d ever get a faster speed as it would cost them ‘hundreds of thousands’ to run new cable here. So, forgive my cynicism but I’ll believe it when I see it!

  13. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page which has lots of extra info: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/faqs/

    Thanks for your comments,

    The Connecting Shropshire team

  14. How can we find where the cabinets are located within our parish?
    There isn’t any information available from Openreach yet they are the owners of the units.
    Also, when will know when a parish is to have its broadband upgraded?
    Thanks

  15. Nigel Dobson-Smyth

    We struggle to acheive over 1 MB on our BT broadband connection in southern Shropshire, 2 miles from the nearest telephone exchange; and if there is even a brief break in power supply (common in this area) it can take several days to re-establish even this limited service.

    Our house is on a long distance public footpath in a small hamlet remote from tarmac roads (it was a bustling town in medieval times!). This rural ridgetop footpath connects us directly to another hamlet about a mile away that is due to recieve a BT fibreoptic cable in the near future. Is there any chance that BT could lay a fibre optic cable to us?

    Perhaps a small mole plow could lay a duct along the footpath at modest cost? Over a dozen properties along the foothpath coud benefit, many of which support small businesses run from home.

    • So you, Nigel Dobson-Smyth, get “1 MB”
      Do you really? Why complain? Do you actually know, with the greatest respect, what you are talking about when you say 1 MegaByte (MB). Do you perhaps mean Mbps (Megabit)? Not the same thing at all.

  16. Frustrated to see that once again FTTC will be the principle technology deployed. Distance from the cabinet will remain a significant factor in speed achievable.

  17. Excellent news! Here in rural south Shropshire we have been pushing for better broadband services for some time. Can you say yet when we might see improved broadband service in the Church Stretton area in particular? Thanks.

  18. *Does not include the Telford and Wrekin Council area ?
    Surely is against council discrimination !