Connecting Shropshire

November 15, 2016 / 26 comments / Permalink

Bids invited for Phase 2b of the Connecting Shropshire broadband programme

Related topics: Funding / News

Moves to bring superfast broadband to even more people in the county have been announced by Shropshire Council.

The authority is inviting bids from telecoms suppliers for the third phase of a major project to boost connectivity for residents and businesses.

Known as Phase 2b of the Connecting Shropshire broadband programme, the initiative is designed to bring fast connections in areas where no commercial provision is currently in place or planned.

Phase 2b aims to extend superfast broadband coverage to a further 16,015 premises in the Shropshire Council area using £11.7m public funding secured through funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Broadband Delivery UK) and the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership. Shropshire Council has already invested £9m through two separate contracts (Phases 1 and 2a).

Whilst Phase 1 is completing this winter, Phase 2a has already commenced with planning work which will deliver to an additional 4,000 premises by winter 2017.

Bids are now being invited from specialist telecoms suppliers to plan, design, build, operate and maintain high-performance broadband networks, referred to as Next Generation Access (NGA). All solutions must be capable of supporting download speeds of over 30mbps and must offer competition and choice to broadband customers.

Steve Charmley, Deputy Leader of Shropshire Council and member responsible for broadband, said: “As we near the end of Phase 1, we’ve already provided over 55,000 homes and businesses with access to better broadband. At the same time as gearing up to deliver our Phase 2, I’m thrilled to be starting the procurement for the next phase of work. We’re eager to close all of our gaps and particularly want solutions that prioritise coverage for premises on the slowest speeds.”

Graham Wynn, Chairman of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Fast data connections are crucial for residents and businesses now, whoever and wherever they are. It’s important to note that, as part of this procurement, bidders are asked to offer network solutions that prioritise premises registered for business rates. Superfast broadband enables businesses to function more efficiently, increases their profitability and provides access to new markets. Our businesses have identified lack of connectivity as a barrier to growth so we are very pleased to be able to contribute Local Growth Funding to this latest push for better broadband speeds. We look forward to work getting under way.”

Telecoms suppliers have until 30 January 2017 to prepare and submit their bids. Shropshire Council expects to award contract(s) in March 2017.

The procurement excludes additional funding that Shropshire Council is expecting to receive as part of its Phase 1 contract. Where customers choose to take-up fibre broadband once it is available, the Council receives ‘clawback’ that is estimated at £2.2m to date. This money will remain ring-fenced for further broadband investment.

26 comments

  1. Can you tell me when Newton (WV15 5LY) will have access to faster broadband.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      To date, Connecting Shropshire has carried out work to provide faster broadband to around 280 premises in the Worfield telephone exchange area but Newton does not benefit.
      Whilst we don’t have any plans in place to provide Newton with access to faster broadband, we’ve just launched a further procurement exercise worth £11.7m to provide more premises with access to better broadband. Properties in Newton are included in the intervention area where we have State Aid approval to invest in improving the availability of superfast broadband.
      Connecting Shropshire team

  2. Any idea when fibre is made available at 10 The Keep SY3 5DW? (some houses at our postcode already have fibre on their premises). Thanks

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Your premises are not yet within reach of the fibre broadband network. You are served by cabinet number 73 in the Shrewsbury exchange, which is in BT’s commercial programme and not covered by Connecting Shropshire (we can only use public funds to intervene where commercial companies are not planning to provide fibre based broadband).
      Although Connecting Shropshire has no control over BT’s commercial plans, we have asked Shropshire’s MPs to seek assurances to ensure that they stick to their commercial commitments to upgrade cabinets by the end of March 2018.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  3. Please can you let me know what the plan is for SY5 6RN (Leighton)
    We need fibre broadband for our village

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Leighton is in the plan for Connecting Shropshire to provide access to superfast broadband.
      I received an update from Openreach at our weekly operational meeting this morning to say that there is outstanding civils works to connect up the fibre network involving roadworks, traffic management, and negotiating wayleaves. It is expected that the work will be completed in March 2017.
      Connecting Shropshire team

  4. Hi What are the plans for Ash Magna SY13 4DR? Local cabinet in Whitchurch has FTTC and is accepting order, but we are too far away. I work from home and am lucky to get 3mps downstream and 0.4mps upstream. with the additional 20 new properties planned to be built in the village, this is sure to drop the current slow speeds.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      As you correctly say, premises in Ash Magna are connected to cabinet 7 in the Whitchurch exchange, which has been upgraded to fibre broadband but are too far away down the copper line from the cabinet to receive a fibre broadband service.
      Your postcode area is expected to benefit from phase 2a of the Connecting Shropshire programme with work to provide access to a fibre broadband service starting in summer 2017.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  5. Any possible news on whether WV16 6RN will get FTTP or any faster solution any time soon?
    Currently having to deal with 5mbps download and 0.030mbps upload to do college work with which makes it really hard.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Connecting Shropshire does not have any current plans to provide faster broadband in WV16 6RN (Neenton).
      We’ve just launched a further procurement exercise worth £11.7m to provide more places with access to better broadband, which includes premises in Neenton.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  6. Any news on connecting Stanton SY4 4LR
    The nearest cabinet is at Shawbury but the village seems to be in “dead area” as regards any provision.
    There is a microwave link and the Wrekin but they are not able to extend this far.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Premises in SY4 4LR (Stanton upon Hine Heath) are connected to cabinet 2 in the Shawbury exchange, which has been upgraded to fibre broadband. However, properties in the village are too far away down the copper line from the cabinet to receive a fibre broadband service.
      SY4 4LR is expected to benefit from phase 2a of the Connecting Shropshire programme with work to provide access to a fibre broadband service starting in 2017. Please note that we cannot be certain which premises will have access to a fibre broadband service until the work has been progressed to a detailed planning stage.
      In the meantime, Connecting Shropshire is participating in a national Government Scheme to provide a basic broadband service to all those premises in the Shropshire Council area that cannot access a basic broadband service (with download speeds in excess of 2mbps). The Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme is open for applications and will provide support towards the cost of the installation of a satellite/fixed wireless broadband connection. For more details, see: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/basic-broadband-subsidy-scheme/ or give us a call.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  7. As others have asked, I, too, would like to know how my area will fare. I live in Catherton on the edge of Catherton Common. The nearest cabinet is just over 2 miles away in Cleobury Mortimer, which has superfast broadband. About a year ago, BT told several of us that we could be connected, but, of course, when the engineers arrived, they confirmed it was not possible given the distance. Are we scheduled in phase 2a or 2b? Any news, please?

    • Connecting Shropshire

      From your description, I assumed that you live in the DY14 0LJ postcode. Connecting Shropshire is not planning any improvement in DY14 0LJ as part of phase 2a.
      Premises in DY14 0LJ are classed as ‘under review’ in our phase 2b procurement. This means that a broadband infrastructure provider plans to provide access to 30mbps download speeds in the area over the next three years. The supplier in question is Shropshire-based Secure Web Services (SWS) and they can be contacted by ‘phone on 0333 7000 227 or email: broadband@securewebservices.co.uk
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  8. I wonder if you can clarify whether Whitton is included in Phase2b.

    I hope that priority will be given to rural areas like Whitton which have low speed access due to he distance from the exchange (and not able to access fibre broadband despite the cabinet being enabled) rather than focusing on the easier to reach areas.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Premises in Whitton are included in the intervention area for the Phase 2b procurement because superfast broadband is not available and there are currently no plans to provide access to it over the next three years (from either Connecting Shropshire or commercial broadband infrastructure providers).
      When assessing the bids, priority will be given to broadband solutions that serve premises on the slowest speeds (<15mbps), with the highest weighting for premises on download speeds of below 2mbps.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  9. Is Walford Heath included, as we are still limited to speeds of approx 1.2Mb on our current copper links – and in the damp weather, somewhat less.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Some 25 premises in the Walford Heath area are expected to benefit from phase 2 of the Connecting Shropshire programme with work to provide access to a fibre broadband service starting in 2017. Please note that we cannot be certain which premises will have access to a fibre broadband service until the work has been progressed to a detailed planning stage, likely next spring.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  10. It would be nice to think that the upper Clun valley would be somewhere in the Councils future programme as our properties seem to fall outside of the councils programme.
    SWS can only help if you are in sight of the transmitters, great if you are not surrounded by hills

    • Connecting Shropshire

      In their response to our Open Market Review, Secure Web Services (SWS) told us that they can provide properties in Mardu with a superfast broadband connection, so the area is not included in the phase 2b procurement.
      SWS are able to do a desk-top and/or site survey to ascertain whether or not a property has line of sight to any of their masts.
      SWS can be contacted by ‘phone on 0333 7000 227 or email: broadband@securewebservices.co.uk
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  11. Peter van Duijvenvoorde

    What are the plans for Caynham? Some houses are connected to the Ludlow exchange and some to the Clee Hill exchange via the cabinet in Knowbury. For example our house is 2.6 km from the cabinet and we do have a fibre broadband connection delivering about 4 mbps. I know that others are in a worse situation however, we would greatly benefit from a faster connection especially as I run a small IT business from home.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      The majority of premises in Caynham parish are in the Clee Hill telephone exchange area. Connecting Shropshire has provided fibre broadband to cabinets 1, 5 and 6 in the Clee Hill exchange, which provide around 600 premises (not all in Caynham parish) with access to a fibre broadband service in the Clee Hill and Knowbury areas. Properties in the west of the parish are served by cabinet 18 in the Ludlow exchange. However, these premises are too far away down the copper line from the cabinet to receive a superfast broadband service.
      As there is no planned coverage in Caynham village, all of the premises are included in our next procurement, worth around £11.7m, which was launched at the beginning of November 2016.
      If you have further queries, we’re attending the next parish council meeting, in Caynham Village Hall at 7pm on Monday 5 December, so come along to hear the presentation and ask questions.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  12. You refer to NGA and Phase 2. What are the plans for Billingsley as we are also connected to a fibre enabled box but too far away

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Billingsley is expected to benefit from phase 2 of the Connecting Shropshire programme with work to provide access to a fibre broadband service starting in 2017. Please note that we cannot be certain which premises will have access to a fibre broadband service until the work has been progressed to a detailed planning stage.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

  13. Chris Chillingworth

    Middleton and Bitterley seem to have been left out by Openreach while we are surrounded by other villages such as Stoke St. Milborough and Clee Hill which have had fibre optic now for some time now, and yet we (Middleton) are only 2 miles from the exchange in Ludlow which also has good internet access. Our broadband speed is only 2 mps on a good day and it is impossible to do more than one internet related task in a household with three potential users: we have to take it in turn! At evenings and weekends we sometimes can’t even do one. People here also need superfast broadband to run their businesses.

    • Connecting Shropshire

      Middleton and Bitterley are connected to cabinets 11 and 2 in the Ludlow and Clee Hill exchanges, respectively. These two cabinets have been upgraded to fibre broadband. However, both villages are too far away down the copper line from the cabinet to receive a fibre broadband service.
      Connecting Shropshire does not have any plans to provide faster broadband to Middleton and Bitterley.
      In our next procurement, 3,728 premises have been classified as ‘under review, including those in Middleton and Bitterley. These premises are part of suppliers’ planned commercial coverage area for Next Generation Access (NGA*) broadband. The majority (92%) of these ‘under review’ premises are in the west of the Shropshire Council area where Shropshire-based Secure Web Services (SWS) have committed plans to extend their network coverage commercially without the need for public subsidy.
      Although SWS have provided credible and robust plans to provide NGA* broadband to these 3,728 premises over the next three years, Shropshire Council has chosen to classify these premises as ‘under review’ in order to monitor progress. This means that these premises are not currently part of the next Phase 2b procurement specification.
      In compliance with State Aid guidance** (paragraph 65) Connecting Shropshire will monitor, scrutinize and verify SWS’ plans at 6 monthly review points. Should their plans fall away, these premises will be considered for further public intervention by Connecting Shropshire.
      Connecting Shropshire has retained a contingency sum in the Phase 2b procurement process which will, should the need arise, allow for ‘under review’ premises to be added to the contract where appropriate.
      The Connecting Shropshire team

      * Next Generation Access (NGA) is broadband capable of delivering 30 Megabits per second
      ** http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2013:025:0001:0026:EN:PDF