Connecting Shropshire

April 11, 2013 / 30 comments / Permalink

Project update – April 2013

Related topics: Programme delivery

Following an intense period of activity through the winter, Shropshire Council announced the outcome of its procurement process on March 27  2013.

British Telecommunications PLC (BT) were chosen as the partner to deliver this exciting project which will see 93% of premises across Shropshire, more than 130,000 premises, getting access to broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps by the end of Spring 2016.  In addition, the contract includes a commitment to deliver a minimum speed of 2Mbps to all premises in the project area.

BT is contributing £8.6m towards the deployment in “non-commercial” areas, while Shropshire Council is contributing £8.2m, with £7.84m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.

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 (FTTC) will be the main technology deployed. This delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology – delivering ultra-fast 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 equal basis. Households and businesses in Shropshire will therefore benefit from competition in the market, bringing greater choice and competitive prices from a range of service providers.

Faster broadband will also help to boost the competitiveness of local businesses, enabling them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up new web-based learning and other development opportunities for households.

For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of new services. 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 and telephony will become a viable possibility.

Mobilisation

During April, the Connecting Shropshire team will start gearing up for the deployment phase, which will include a number of critical dependencies to ensure the programme is successful:

  • Connecting Shropshire will co-locate with BT in a single programme office in Shrewsbury.
  • A stakeholder ‘kick-off’ meeting will refine the governance and stakeholder engagement process. Project controls, reporting and processes will be agreed to ensure that the programme has full accountability.
  • Internal and external service dependencies will be co-opted to ‘smooth’ deployment:
    • Highways engagement
    • Planning department
    • Power supply companies

Surveying and planning

A six to nine month period of intensive planning and surveying will run concurrent with the initial mobilisation. This will enable us to refine and confirm deployment plans, which we will share as they are confirmed. The roll-out will have nine phases which are due to be completed by the end of Spring 2016.

Engagement and support

Throughout the roll-out we will ensure there is full engagement through a network of stakeholders and communication channels. We intend to use the network of parish and town councils to ensure all communities are briefed on the deployment plans.

We intend to reach out into communities to seek volunteers who want to get involved as ‘digital champions’. These individuals will provide informal advice, information and support to adults in their local community who either want to get online and learn how to use a computer for the first time, or improve their confidence with the basics.

Volunteers will also be asked to help promote this service in their community by putting up posters and leaflets in suitable locations, such as doctors’ surgeries, church halls, and local notice boards. All such promotional material will be provided by the Connecting Shropshire team.

Additional funding

In order to meet Shropshire Council’s aspirations for 100% next generation access (NGA) and as much superfast broadband as possible, additional funds will need to be secured. The council is currently working to secure additional resources, including applying to the £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) as part of the Rural Development Programme for England. The RCBF is jointly funded by Defra and BDUK and provides grants to communities to establish superfast broadband in hard-to-reach areas.

We understand that there could be a further £300m made available after the next election in 2015 to extend superfast and NGA coverage. We will continue to work closely with BDUK and local members to ensure that Shropshire is able to access these funds when they become available.

Keep updated

We will continue to keep our website updated throughout the project. This will include information about the project, including timescales, together with evidence and demonstration of the benefits of using broadband for both residents and businesses.

30 comments

  1. Owen Patterson lives 2 just miles from St Martins.
    I wonder what his connection is like?

  2. To those citing Airband as a solution in Wales – I recieve their service in South Shropshire and it’s absolutely brilliant. Pick up the phone to them and see what they can do for you. I have clients in central London who would cut off their arms for a similar service at the same cost.

  3. I fully support Rob Cross’ comment about the project not supporting those areas already being tackled by BT because they are commercially viable. The project funding must be allotted to those areas that form the ‘abandoned triangles’ like the Bermuda triangle only it involves the total disappearance of modern technology.
    I had not heard of Airband until today but I see that the Welsh parliament are offering grants. Will this project be able to offer something similar to our areas or is it too tied into BT?

    • Connecting Shropshire team

      Thanks for the comment. We appreciate it’s frustrating for those areas that still have a very poor service, or no service at all, but the roll-out has to be planned in such a way as to ensure the best possible value for money. That means lots of factors are taken into account when deciding which areas are connected when – question 6 in the FAQs explains more: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/faqs/

      The project does not have the ability to offer grants for areas to find their own broadband solutions. Our aim is to provide at least a basic level of broadband to every property in the Shropshire Council area , and superfast to as many as possible, by the end of Spring 2016.

  4. Michael H Benton

    In view of Simon.alton’s above comments (17/04/13), as Bucknell exchange is in Openreach’s ‘under evaluation’ list, does this preclude it from benefiting from the Connecting Shropshire initiative?

  5. Julian Rogers-Coltman

    Was about to volunteer my services for SY8 3AE when I had a look at the proposed roll out map. I don’t think I’ll bother now! There is a 400 sq.m section on South West Shropshire, broadly cornered by Ludlow, Clifton on Teme, Bridgnorth and Church Stretton, where there is no roll out planned at all! Please give us some hope!

    • Thanks for the comment. If you are referring to the BT Openreach superfast broadband website (www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/), that shows the current status of exchanges and does not include the proposed improvements which will come from this project.

      The Openreach map just includes exchanges being enabled as part of Openreach’s commercial roll-out plans and other scheduled rural broadband projects. It does not currently include the Connecting Shropshire project as the team is now developing a roll-out strategy for those areas included in the project.

      So there is hope! The team will keep you regularly updated as things move forward.

      The Connecting Shropshire team

    • I’m at SY8 3EH, like you Simon, I’m in the desert area you mention – why am I not surprised?

  6. Lindsay Robertshaw

    I’m also happy to be a digital champion in the Candy valley (SY10 9AZ at this end).

    We’re also happy to permit access for installation of fibreoptic broadband over our land where necessary.

  7. The first Shropshire BDUK exchanges “under evaluation” are now showing on BT Openreach’s website – http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/ – it should please Mrs Walters that Halfway House exchange (covering Westbury and area is included). In full they are the neighbouring exchanges of Worthen, Halfway House, Chirbury, Linley and Bishops Castle.

    Quite happy to be a “digital champion” for three of those exchanges, Linley and Bishops Castle are a bit of a stretch!

    Not yet sure how this will work our for me personally being on an EO line but the latest news suggests that Openreach may have overcome this problem. Certainly those five exchanges are a technical nightmare for Openreach, it will be interesting to see how they work it out.

  8. The existing rollout of Fibre optic in Shrewsbury has delivered to quite a bit of the Town, however it’s a complete postcode lottery. I live less than four miles from Town Centre and am connected to that Exchange yet the fastest I can get is about 1 MB it’s so bad I cancelled my landline over a year ago and tether through my mobile on three and that’s at least as fast. I’ve registered interest, complained to the MP and pestered BT but no plans to come here yet. Now I read your going to be months setting up shop before you get started, I’ll be gone by then, hopefully somewhere new to live but maybe from this earth at the speed things have moved so far.
    Could I just ask one thing please. Every rollout of Internet improvement has followed the same route going to the least needy first. Please could you make some attempt to reverse this and improve the slow first
    Regards
    Rob

  9. It would be wonderful for Clun to get high speed broadband. It would benefit many
    local people and small firms and help
    keep employment local.
    I would be more than happy to assist as a
    “Digital Champion”. Please do not forget
    the remote areas……

  10. Our Broadband speed – when we get it – is less than 1/2 mb so ‘bring it on’!! I would be happy to be a digital champion, in my area – SY8 2AJ

  11. Happy to help in our area of st martins sy11 3ex as a ‘digital champion’

  12. I would be happy to be a ‘digital champion’ in my area: SY156DE.

  13. My earlier post should have read: Download 1.40mb/s and Upload 0.354mb/s

    Superfast broadband, ha ha, BT you are a joke

  14. By 2016! I run my business from home and have to endure, at best, 512mb broadband speeds (and thats on a good day) at 5.00 pm it slows to snail pace.

    We are getting our connection through 1960,s bell wire and paying BT a premium price for a rubbish service, we cant change provider because BT wont let other providers install their equipment in the Halfweay House exchange so we will continue to be ripped off by BT, competition? dont make me laugh.

    Powys has “airband” why cant Shropshire do the same

  15. In Melverley broadband is not available at any speed. It’s slow in Maesbrook too, where I live; I’ll be a champion. (SY10 8QH)

  16. Dr John Thompson

    I would be happy to be digital champion for the Racecourse and Rhydycroesau area west of Oswestry. I am at the end of a rural line on the Racecourse with restricted broadband even though I can see the Oswestry exchange from where I live! I am also webmaster for the Rhydycroesau Village Hall Management Committee and am concerned this substantial dispersed village should get good broadband – particularly as it has “hosted” the through-passage of one of the first fibres to a village for years, without the benefit of a breakout in Rhydycroesau. The rural economy depends on broadband.

  17. Jonathan Hartnell-Beavis

    If you are looking for digital champions I am also keen to lobby for our area (TF11 9**) – this is just the sort of investment that we could do with.

  18. Ian Spencer-Brown

    I would be happy to be a “digital champion” volunteer for our little hamlet in due course. We live In Hindford SY11 4NL Speed @ present .24 meg.
    Every day, living on the World Heritage Canal Route, we are asked “Is your broadband Wifi available please?” It would much less embarrassing to be able to confident in giving a positive reply, and not getting the “How quaint” type reply

  19. I do the bulk of the desktop publishing of the News items for our monthly Westbury and Yockleton Newsletter and in our December 2012 issue (having received information from Mathew Mead, Community Action Officer that SC had secured funding for improvements to broadband across the County) I included an item encouraging all our readers (particularly those with poor broadband reception) to log on to your website (connectingshropshire.co.uk/the-project/)
    to register their interest and provide your officers with evidence of the very necessary need for improvements to broadband which in many parts of this rural area is very slow, flaky, and in some hamlets often intermittent. In our April 2013 Newsletter I included an item from Emma Simms and Ruth Leigh who have just launched Westbury’s “Village Computer Club” (www.webwestbury.com) and very soon hope to get sessions underway on a regular basis. Subject to column space, and the agreement of our Editor Iain Wright, I intend to reproduce the salient points of the information you have given above in your Project Update – April 2013 in our May Newsletter, as an update to the broadband item I included in our December 2012 Newsletter. The majority of our Newsletter readers live in the SY5_9?? postcode areas, so I would welcome any further Broadband updates from you relevant to our area which I can include in future issues of our Newsletter. Many thanks

  20. ‘Digital champion’ ~ yes please! WV15 5HR even the head of BT and my MP said we and the companies around us would not be upgraded. The next morning the PM is talking about better broadband nationwide: but that was 2 years ago. Maybe this time the small companies in Shropshire can finally benefit?

  21. A very welcome initiative. Just tested my internet speed at 7.4 Mbps – It’s sometimes far lower. This is 2013!! – and I’m one of the more fortunate ones. Can’t wait for the upgrade.

  22. If BT is involved then I believe it when it happens. With this ammount of other people’s money being thrown at the problem there is really no excuse however they will likely find one in the same way they have maintained their nationwide charging structure while giving an appaling rural service for these past 15 years. Sould we be using the words ‘BT’ and ‘value for money’ in the same sentence?

  23. Count me in as a ‘digital champion’.
    Dan Haycocks
    NEWTOWN, WEM
    Postcode SY45NU

  24. I would definitely like to volunteer to be a digital champion in the Pontesbury area, SY5 0QT.

  25. There are 9 houses in the candy valley that would love to become digital champions our post code is sy10 9ba
    Help urgently needed we only get 250 bps at best

  26. John F. Williamson

    I would be happy to be a “digital champion” in my area WV16 6AG because I am still fearful that we shall fall into the 7%.

  27. I would be happy to be a “digital champion” volunteer for our little hamlet in due course. We live in Quatford, post code:WV15 6QH