Connecting Shropshire

October 24, 2013 / 15 comments / Permalink

First communities to benefit from multi-million pound Connecting Shropshire broadband programme are announced

Related topics: Programme delivery

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

15 comments

  1. Connecting Shropshire

    Thank you for your enquiry, currently our programme will bring the availability as FTTC. Individuals can then contact their ISP to find out what further may be available to them.

  2. In the roll out of the fibre network will you be able to order the Fibre to the premises option? or is it all just fibre to the cabinet?

  3. Given the £8.2 million contribution from our council tax, we should be entitled to know the estimated date when each exchange will go live. The project only runs until Spring 2016 so a detailed project plan must exist. Please publish it!

    • Please refer to my response of 28th October advising there is a roll out plan. We cannot publish the full plan at this time, as said before this is a very large scale project across the whole county which only started in March of this year and all the planning and survey work in not yet complete. A high level indication is available on our published deployment map. We will update this map and make more announcements as soon as we are able.

  4. Please refer to my response of 28/10/2013 at 10:17 hrs. Thank you.

    • In fairness, I think the contract was put out to tender and BT were the only one’s to pick up and accept the challenge. The opportunity was there for others to take the counsel’s money and they didn’t. I expect the reason being is because its not commercially viable for such expensive infrastructure to be provided for so little in return.

  5. Richard W. Gittins

    Very good news for those areas, but what about Melverley and similar areas, where broadband is poor to non existent. A stable broadband would be a start, one which did not go down frequently

    • Ref MoragBanks comment, I am not in the least bit assured that “..Shropshire Council is committed to supporting all rural communities..”

      It looks more like a politically motivated box-ticking exercise to get as many easy properties as possible connected (including the ones that already have excellent broadband) in order to present a rose-tinted picture in time for the 2015 election propaganda,

      I reiterate my earlier comment that the outlying areas which, in reality, will never get fibre optic landline, should have had alternative technology installed as a priority to give those people the acceptable standard of service that much of the county already enjoys, because by 2016 it will be a case of “sorry,no money left, you’ll have to fund your own solution”,

  6. Thank you for your comments, in answer to your question, yes we will be issuing more information as and when we are able to do so. As the programme evolves we will be better placed to provide more details.

  7. This is great news, we get 18mb here at the moment in Minsterley, hardly a poor service but the extra upload and lower pings will be welcomed. I have always thought it odd that the Pontsbury exchange is actually located on the outer edge of Minsterley with most of Minsterley getting better speeds because of shorter cable runs. The post notes the exchange will be updated but makes no comment on if there is a specific set of cabinets that will be upgraded, will there be any more data on this?

    I have read lots of comments about “rural” areas missing out and that these areas should have been first, This makes little sense in the scheme of things if trunk cable needs to be laid down roads then you work outwards, not lay then back fill, The money should be spent improving the service for the largest number of people possible, not a select few who have chosen to live in a very rural area.
    In this day and age, I don’t think its unreasonable that people check the infrastructure before they rent, or purchase a house – I know I did. Its not just the exchange you need to worry about but length of cable from the cab to the house.

    Ill end on I think the pushing for a single fiber network across the county such as ours with very rural areas is silly, more thought should have been given to different tech like large scale wifi and satellite internet as the delivery of FTTC in small villages is impractical and expensive

  8. It might be cold comfort for the people around Clun but we have the same problems up in parts of North Shropshire where some days the internet is barely usable.
    It is unacceptable to be told that we have to wait until at least 2016 to get a 2meg connection when it has been known for years that it’s not physically possible to beef up landline speeds to many outlying areas.
    A far better use of resources would have been to fund satellite broadband, or proven wireless technology like RedRaw, at the start of the program because that is the kind of technology that many outlying areas will probably end up with anyway and it would give people in those areas an acceptable standard of internet access right now and for far less than the cost of maintaining miles of overhead lines, and with the added bonus that we wouldn’t have to wait for BT taking 7 weeks to fix line faults.

  9. Agree with Mr Jones. Some households and businesses west of Clun have no broadband at all and are still on dial up. The rollout has been planned the wrong way around – it is meant to be a **rural** programme after all, not for the bigger towns in the county which already have reasonable connections (although no doubt much easier to upgrade).
    Please do not forget the real rural areas of Shropshire (the ones much photographed in the tourist brochures) and please do not think that we will be happy with min/max of 2mb speeds. This will not be sufficient to keep up with internet technologies even in the short to medium term.

  10. Fantastic news! Im in Pontesbury and work in IT, allot of it remote support, this will be great for my business!

  11. I appreciate that SCC must have its priorities but would it not be prudent to ensure that those areas with little speed or none be identified as a priority as businesses and residents are exiting Shropshire because of the apparent need to increase speeds in high density areas and ignoring those living in the south of the county ie. Craven Arms, Bishops Castle,Clun, Newcastle,Bettws-y-Crwyn and the Anchor

    • Please be assured that Shropshire Council is committed to supporting all of our rural communities with this programme. At a very early stage of committing £8.2m of the Council’s funds to this programme, our Cabinet agreed that we would optimise the speed and coverage for the money available with no priorities being set. The aim of the Connecting Shropshire programme is to achieve the best possible broadband coverage in the council area for the resources available. The partnership is developing a roll-out plan based on this principle taking into account many factors including geography, planning requirements, the existing engineering infrastructure and the availability of suitable technologies to provide a service. It’s not possible with a programme of this size to plan every area at the same time, so some areas will be enabled before others.