Connecting Shropshire

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Business broadband grant

May 25, 2018 / Leave a comment / Permalink

£25,000 grant provides ultrafast broadband connection for Shropshire business.

Gwaza Ltd will soon become the first business in the Shropshire Council area to benefit from a dedicated grant, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Shropshire Council. The £25,000 grant from the Marches & Gloucestershire Broadband Grant scheme will provide Gwaza with access to ultrafast broadband.

Gwaza was founded by John Price in 1967 primarily as an electric fencing manufacturer, known as Salop Fencing Ltd. The company expanded into gate and general steel fabrication serving the agricultural, automotive and industrial sectors. As their distribution into the aftermarket for engineers, agricultural dealers and retailers developed, the company was re-branded as Gwaza Ltd.

Gwaza LtdGwaza Ltd

CommsCo have been selected by Gwaza to install a dedicated service of 300 Megabits per second both download and upload, which will significantly enhance the company’s digital capability.

Managing Director Victor Edwards highlighted the key benefits the new service will bring: “Our IT focus is yielding growth that is outstripping the currently available Internet infrastructure. In recent years Gwaza has invested heavily in technology to streamline and expand our business. We have our own B2B website, catalogue, product information, and ordering portal, providing web shops and ordering portals for a small number of dealers.

“This has led to trialling customer order processing systems which are offered to the dealer to allow them to pass through orders direct from their online platforms. We are also trialling remote warehouses in Europe, operated by our dealers. The dealers also utilise online systems to manage stock, process orders, request deliveries etc. so our broadband infrastructure is crucial.

“Currently Gwaza is fortunate that many of their customers access their website and order portals outside of normal business hours, in a bid to avoid congested Internet traffic. By having access to an ultrafast synchronised service Gwaza customers will be able to order on demand, significantly improving the customer experience and ensuring next day delivery targets.

“To accommodate the increased level of order fulfilment, Gwaza anticipates hiring additional staff once the new systems are embedded and new customers are attracted. In time, Gwaza anticipates needing to invest further in their warehouse and packing facilities to accommodate the increase in demand.”

Nav Mohammed Technical Director from CommsCo said: “Upon initial engagement with Gwaza, it became apparent that they required an ultrafast connection due to the nature of their business and bandwidth required for effective operation. Gwaza also needed a find a solution that would provide bandwidth expansion to allow for continued growth.”

A dedicated Fibre to the Premises connection was identified as the most reliable and economically viable technology solution to fulfil the customer requirement.

Nic Laurens, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, commented: “It’s great to see a Shropshire business benefitting from this grant scheme, which can fund up to 100% of the cost of installing a superfast broadband connection. I would encourage any business or business park owner struggling with broadband connectivity to investigate their eligibility for one of these grants, which are part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

“You might be surprised to hear that the Marches & Gloucestershire Broadband Grant scheme is under-subscribed and the last thing we want is to have to hand money back to Europe at the end of the project. The clock is ticking and all grant applications must be submitted by the end of December 2018.”

The Marches and Gloucestershire Broadband Grant gives eligible businesses up to £25,000 to fund the installation of a superfast broadband connection.

If you run a business which cannot access speeds of over 30Mbps, and you are not already part of any current superfast broadband rollout plans, then you could be eligible for a grant.

Businesses wishing to find out more, please go to the following page on the Connecting Shropshire website: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/business-broadband-grant/
Registering for the grant is a simple and easy process, but all applications for the grant must be completed before December 2018.

Businesses can also benefit from further business support through the Marches Growth Hub and get access to free support from a Business Adviser. For more information, go to: https://www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk/about-us/shropshire/

Government introduce a Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme

April 25, 2018 / Leave a comment / Permalink

In the Spring Statement, the government committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain. As part of this commitment, a £67 million Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme was announced.

Gigabit broadband vouchers can be used by small and medium-sized businesses, and by residents surrounding them, to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable broadband connection.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project, which must also include one or more businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500 per premise.

One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits – so it’s a big leap forward in broadband connection speeds that could benefit you and your business into the future.

For further details, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

Please note: Connecting Shropshire has no involvement in the administration of the Scheme, and we are unable to respond to queries about it.

Connecting Shropshire: 60-second briefing

March 15, 2018 / Leave a comment / Permalink

What is it?  Connecting Shropshire is a £45m programme to bring faster broadband to all parts of the Shropshire Council area where private companies are not going to provide it as part of their current commercial plans. We invest money with suppliers to make it commercially viable for them to invest and deliver. The networks are owned by these companies once completed.

What have we done so far?  Since 2013, we’ve attracted over £37m of public investment and provided over 54,000 homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband (with download speeds in excess of 30mbps).

What technology are we deploying?  Our first two contracts commissioned BT Openreach to build out their fibre broadband network. Our third contract is with a company called Airband, who have been deploying high-speed wireless broadband in rural counties since 2002.

Image of Airband logo

Airband delivers broadband connectivity via a fixed wireless network. This technology allows the broadband signal to be transmitted wirelessly to a receiver. The receiver is about the size of a two-pint milk carton that is fitted to the property, within clear line of sight to an Airband transmitter. Once fitted, a cable runs from the receiver into the property and plugs into a Wi-Fi router just like any other broadband connection would.

What’s next?  Connecting Shropshire, Fastershire and Superfast Telford have now received approval from DEFRA for £10.5m of European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) funding to run the Marches & Gloucestershire Viable Clusters Broadband Project. The project aims to provide further superfast broadband coverage for around 1,400 premises in the Council area. The tenders have been issued and are due back in May 2018.

What’s left to do?  Connecting Shropshire’s current contracts are expected to continue into 2020 and will provide superfast broadband for a further 18,000 premises. We believe that, if all commercial providers meet their current commitments and our current contracts complete as planned, we will be close to achieving our aspiration of ensuring that all premises in the Shropshire Council area have access to better broadband by the end of 2020.

How does this benefit me?  If you haven’t already switched to faster broadband, use the information on our website to check if you can upgrade, see: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/when-and-where/. Once better broadband has been enabled in your area you will need to order an upgrade from an Internet Service Provider.
Your broadband connection will not speed up automatically.

Does it cost more?  Not necessarily! The broadband infrastructure that we‘ve commissioned is open to a variety of internet service providers, so we recommend that you shop around to get the best deal by using a comparison website, such as: http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/.

What’s the alternative?  If superfast broadband is not yet available in your area, you might consider applying to the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme. If your application is successful, the Scheme will provide support towards the cost of the installation of a broadband connection.

How do I find out more?  Check out our website, and if you still have a query, send the details (including your address & landline number) to: connecting.shropshire@shropshire.gov.uk.

Picture gallery

Green box mounted on telegraph pole

Part of the ‘fibre to the premises’ network in the Leighton area, which provides access to download/upload speeds of 330/50mbps.

 

View from transmitter overlooking Shropshire countryside

View from the first live Airband transmitter site, which serves over 300 homes and businesses in and around Kemberton, Sheriffhales & Shifnal.

 

Fibre cabinet with ploughed field in the background

New fibre cabinet serving premises in Uffington.

 

New fibre cabinet serving premises in Cheswardine.

New fibre cabinet serving premises in Cheswardine.

Airband – first customer connected

February 15, 2018 / Leave a comment / Permalink

Airband has announced that the first customer on the Connecting Shropshire project has gone live in Tong, near Shifnal, Shropshire.

The project, part of the UK Government’s superfast broadband rollout and supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, is part of an £11.2m contract to extend Superfast broadband to 14,000+ local premises by 2020.

IT security manager Andrew Lee and his wife Sulayma are the first to be installed with Superfast broadband under the first phase of the project. The couple have been waiting for faster broadband for four years and are delighted to now have a Superfast broadband connection from Airband.

Connecting Shropshire superfast broadband customers

Andrew and Sulayma Lee are the first customers to be installed with superfast broadband by Airband under the Connecting Shropshire programme. Photo credit: James Greenoff-Cairns.

Andrew said: “We live in a tiny village with just 46 houses three miles from Shifnal, close to Cosford airbase, but our communications have always been poor. When BT upgraded the exchange in Albrighton it didn’t make any difference to us, so we were really keen to get a better connection with Airband.”

“It’s a challenging location so installation wasn’t straightforward. I think this is because we are in a valley and it took a while to establish line-of-sight connection and also because our house is a listed building. They were very patient and thorough and to be honest I’m overjoyed with the results.”

“Before our Airband connection, we had download speed of 2.5 Mbps. Streaming stuff was awful – it was always buffering, and working from home was almost impossible. Now we have 30 Mbps and I am able to work from home when I need to.”

Dave Lloyd, project manager at Airband, said: “Rural Shropshire suffers with some of the poorest broadband speeds in the UK, and we are delighted to be playing a significant role in turning this situation around. This key milestone highlights the progress we’re making to help connect rural residents across the county. The project will be going live in five phases. Phase 1 of the project is due to complete in Spring and involves 28 transmitter sites. During this period, Airband will be making Superfast broadband available to 7,000 homes. Further areas will be going live incrementally as the network is created.”

At present, Airband is offering a range of Superfast broadband packages to suit everyone, from £10 to £42 per month, dependent on data and speed requirements.

Nic Laurens, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, commented: Making superfast broadband available to 14,000+ homes and businesses by the end of 2020 will be a boost to Shropshire’s economy. We want to improve the personal and professional lives of people in Shropshire and delivering better broadband services is a key part of this aim. The first live customer on the new Airband network is a landmark that we feel very excited about. We’re very pleased with the progress Airband is making and we look forward to their roll-out of this project over the coming months and years.”

This week’s first live customer announcement comes just a few weeks after Connecting Shropshire and Airband announced the live launch of the first transmitter site, serving over 300 homes and businesses. The transmitter provides superfast broadband connectivity of 30Mbps to parts of Sheriffhales and Shifnal parishes, and other communities further east, such as Tong. Now that the network for phase 1 is well underway, it is anticipated that Superfast broadband will be available to 7,000 homes by the end of Spring this year.

Airband’s deployment of fixed wireless broadband works by sending a radio signal from a transmitter site to a small receiver attached to the property. A cable is then run into the building allowing the end-user to access the internet in the same way as any other broadband connection.

January 2018 update

January 3, 2018 / Leave a comment / Permalink

The latest programme update providing information on:

  • Contract 3 update
  • Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband
  • Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme – extended
  • Broadband grants available to eligible businesses

To view, please click on the hyperlink title of this post or paste this link into your web browser: /wp-content/uploads/2018/01/20180102-Monthly-update-January-2018.pdf

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