First communities to benefit from multi-million pound Connecting Shropshire broadband programme are announced
The first rural communities to benefit from the £24.6 million Connecting Shropshire broadband programme were today named by Shropshire Council and BT.
From early 2014, high-speed fibre based broadband with speeds of more than 24 megabits per second (mbps) will start to become available to homes and businesses in Montford Bridge, Montford, Bicton, Ford, Shrawardine, Pontesbury and Minsterley. In total, around 6,000 premises will get access to fibre based broadband during phase one of the programme, which will also cover the village of Albrighton (between Telford and Wolverhampton) and business premises in Harlescott. Further announcements of rural communities benefitting from phase one of the roll-out are expected to be made in January, 2014.
Since the partnership was announced earlier this year, engineers have been busy surveying the network in order to ensure the roll-out of the new technology is carried out in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.
As one of the most rural programmes of its kind in England, the scheme has attracted £7.8 million of funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, £8.2 million from Shropshire Council and £8.6 million from BT. It will enable more than 62,000 rural or very rural homes and businesses in Shropshire to access faster broadband by the end of Spring 2016.
An estimated 1,300 kilometres of optical fibre will need to be laid and approximately 350 new roadside cabinets installed by a team of more than 100 engineers. The majority of premises in the programme area will benefit from speeds of 24mbps or more – all will get at least 2mbps.
Connecting Shropshire builds on commercial fibre roll-outs to bring fibre broadband to 93 per cent of Shropshire homes and businesses (excluding Telford & Wrekin) by the end of Spring 2016. This equates to over 130,000 premises in total.
The programme is actively seeking more funding to further extend the availability of high-speed broadband across the whole of the Council area.
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said: “I’m really pleased that we can announce the first communities to benefit from fibre based broadband as the programme starts to move from planning and surveying to the deployment of phase one. The first communities to benefit include a mix of rural and business premises, which wouldn’t have benefitted from access to fibre broadband without the intervention of the Council. I’m especially excited about the opportunities that access to faster broadband will bring to boost the productivity of rural businesses as well as offering new training, educational and entertainment options for households”.
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT Group, said: “This is a very exciting step forward for these communities because faster fibre broadband can benefit everyone. Whether you’re a small business wanting to stay in touch with customers and suppliers, or parents with children using the internet for homework and playing games, whatever you do online, you can do it much better and faster with fibre broadband.”
Nick Chavasse MBE, Shropshire Business Board champion for broadband, said: “The Connecting Shropshire team have worked hard to progress this important programme. I welcome this announcement that Harlescott, which includes one of the largest business parks in the council area, is set to benefit from access to better broadband early in the project. Fast and reliable broadband connectivity helps businesses of all sizes to prosper in a number of ways, including communicating better and exploiting new market opportunities”.
Here are some FAQs which may help to answer any questions about this announcement:
Q. Will other communities get access to fibre based broadband in phase 1?
A. Yes, other communities will get access to fibre based broadband in phase 1 and these will be confirmed in January. In addition, details of exchanges that are due to get access during 2014 will also be announced in January.
Q. I live in one of the first communities, when can I upgrade to faster broadband?
A. Fibre broadband will start to become available in your community from early next year, but we don’t yet know exactly which homes and businesses will get access. Not all premises will necessarily get access to fibre broadband. The first thing to do is register your interest in faster broadband with your existing internet service provider (ISP).
Q. I live in one of the first communities, what broadband speed will I get?
A. It’s too early to say exactly what speed you’ll get. The majority of premises in the programme area will benefit from speeds of 24mbps or more – all will get at least 2mbps. We recommend that you register your interest in faster broadband with your existing internet service provider (ISP).
Q. Will I have to pay more to get faster broadband?
A. The answer to the question depends on a number of variables, such as how much you currently pay, what kind of package you’re on, who your internet service provider is, etc. Therefore, we can’t say whether it’ll cost you more, less or about the same to upgrade to faster broadband speeds.
Q. I live close to one of the communities announced, will I get access at the same time?
A. It’s too early to say as we’re still surveying these areas, survey work for phase 1 will be complete by the end of 2013.
Q. Why are these communities getting access first?
A. We are building a complex network, which has to start from where the fibre already exists.
Q. When faster broadband becomes available will my broadband connection speed get faster automatically?
A. No, faster broadband will not just automatically switch on. To get a faster service you’ll need to check the speed availability and place an order with your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP). Connecting Shropshire is not an ISP.
Q. Will the network be open to competition?
A. Yes. The network is being built by Openreach, BT’s local network business, and will be open to all communications providers on an equal basis, enabling the people of Shropshire to choose the provider and broadband package that best suits their need.
Connecting Shropshire team