An additional 650 homes and businesses in the Ellesmere & Oswestry areas are set to benefit from superfast broadband as part of the Marches & Gloucestershire Viable Clusters Broadband Project.
Herefordshire Council, which will administer the project on behalf of Shropshire Council and other local councils, has been awarded funding by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) using money from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The project is wholly subsidised by DEFRA.
The procurement process to engage network suppliers concluded in June 2018.
Herefordshire Council now intends to award a £1.4m contract to Airband to provide superfast broadband to properties in the rural areas around Ellesmere and Oswestry over the next 2 years. These premises were not projected to benefit from Shropshire Council’s existing contracts. The new Airband infrastructure will use a hybrid “fixed wireless/fibre to the premises” solution, called RuralOptic, which is capable of delivering broadband speeds of 100mbps and more to consumers.
The deployment is additional to the current contract that Shropshire has with Airband which is delivering fixed wireless access to over 14,000 premises.
Nic Laurens, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said: “Superfast broadband is essential for operating in today’s economy. It enables a business to connect with their customers, opens up new markets, and creates new jobs for local residents. I’m delighted that this additional investment will bring increased broadband speeds to businesses and local residents in areas that might have missed out otherwise.
“As part of the Connecting Shropshire broadband programme, Airband has already made superfast broadband available to over 6,800 premises in the Council area. I look forward to seeing the progress of this exciting new technology variant that is very much moving towards the Government’s aspiration for ‘full fibre’ broadband, which will be challenging in rural counties such as Shropshire.
“The Connecting Shropshire Team, working with partners, has once again brought about a successful outcome for our communities following a competitive bidding process for funds. As always, we’re not resting on this outcome, but will continue to work towards our aspiration of providing all our communities with access to superfast broadband.”
Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner, said: “It is excellent to see more rural areas such as Shropshire benefiting from connections to fast and reliable broadband. Rural areas should not be left behind in the connectivity slow lane, missing out on the opportunities high speed broadband can bring. Thousands of residents and businesses across the Marches will benefit.
“The funding made available through the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme champions our countryside communities and businesses by opening up access to broadband in some of the hardest-to-reach areas.”
Red Peel, Director of Airband, said: “At Airband we aim to bring the very best possible connectivity to rural communities, using a blend of technologies. As part of this mission, we have been researching and investing in new innovative solutions to deliver superfast broadband to rural areas to complement our existing fixed wireless network.
“This summer we were excited to launch RuralOptic – our bespoke fibre-to-the-premises solution for rural areas. Trials in Shropshire demonstrated the huge benefits of our new technology, which delivers point-to-point fibre using existing infrastructure, avoiding the time delay and costs involved in digging up roads.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Shropshire Council to deliver superfast next generation broadband for areas that have been hampered by slow speeds. Once this project is signed, we would aim to get the first community on the project live by March 2019.”
To find out more about the Marches & Gloucestershire Viable Clusters Broadband Project, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
News from Connecting Shropshire on the following:
- Programme update
- Contract 3 update – Airband
- Contract 2 update – Openreach
- 90% superfast broadband coverage in the Shropshire Council area
- Broadband availability on new housing developments
- Broadband grants available to eligible businesses – DEADLINE MARCH 2019
- Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
To view, please click on the following link: 20180918 Connecting Shropshire programme update – September 2018
During the last decade, Andrew has invested in a range of innovative agri-tech, which
requires a reliable Superfast broadband connection and strong Wi-Fi to integrate most eﬀectively and provide optimum efficiency in an ever-developing agri-tech sector.
The Williamsons have struggled with poor broadband for many years which created lots of challenges for all the family and for the agri-tech systems that make the farm run more efficiently. Slow broadband was a source of frustration since the family needed it for everything from emails and internet banking to mapping field data for spraying and fertilising. Andrew also needed to use the internet for the farming business to submit VAT returns online
“We had a very slow broadband connection of around 1mbps – even general internet browsing was difficult. Watching a three-minute clip on YouTube would take about 15 minutes. By 2020, we have to be able to submit quarterly accounts online. We do all our applications for grants, subsidies BPS (basic payment scheme), payments online.
We registered interest as soon as we heard about it and I rang up to see if it would work for us. Airband sent out an engineer to see if it was a viable solution for us and it was. Airband engineers returned within a fortnight to install the service. The engineers arrived by 9am and installed the receiver on the house and wired it into the router provided. By lunchtime we were up-and-running.”
Andrew was aware of the Connecting Shropshire programme and found out that Airband were delivering Superfast broadband access within his area.
“We are delighted with the service we are getting. Having superfast broadband means we can do the things everyone else takes for granted. It makes our lives a lot easier and I can’t imagine being without it now.
I use software applications to spread seed, fertilisers and sprays at a ‘variable rate’ in the fields. Generally I create a map, which I then transfer to the tractor using a USB stick. Now that I have better broadband connectivity at the farm, my next objective is to improve my mobile phone connectivity. Also, now that I have better broadband and a stronger Wi-Fi signal, I am looking to create a Wi-Fi hotspot in the farmyard which will upload data from the tractor into the farm software as soon as it comes back from the field into the farmyard.
Having an Airband superfast broadband connection means that I can quickly and easily sort out online farming admin and it also adds social options that we have never had access to before. We can watch films without any buﬀering. It’s a very reliable and robust service. It has been a very positive experience to date and on the times I have had to contact Airband they have responded very quickly.”
Andrew has Airband’s Superfast HomePlus package, which offers 30mbps download, 2mbps upload and unlimited data.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme supports the cost of installing full fibre broadband connections direct to businesses for the fastest and most reliable gigabit-capable broadband speeds available.
Through the scheme SMEs can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of full fibre broadband connection, either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can also benefit from the scheme as part of a group project and can claim for a voucher of up to £500.
The Scheme is operated by Broadband Delivery UK, and not Connecting Shropshire or Shropshire Council.
How to apply:
The scheme is only accessible through broadband service providers that have registered to be part of the scheme, so businesses/community groups interested in benefitting from a voucher should:
- Check whether they are eligible for a voucher here.
- Then check whether there are registered suppliers in the area using the postcode search here.
Vouchers are issued to the supplier only to offset the cost of installation to your premises.
For full details about eligibility, to find a full fibre broadband supplier or read some case studies, go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
As the Scheme is supplier-led, any queries should be directed to your chosen supplier. For a list of suppliers operating in your area, please visit: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/for-businesses/suppliers/
Secure Web Services (SWS) has recently commissioned additional fibre backhaul in the Corvedale valley to extend its broadband coverage to thousands more properties in south Shropshire. Two similar fibre nodes, adding further coverage, are expected to be commissioned over the next 12 months; one in the north-west and one in the south-west of the county.
Nic Laurens, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said: “Secure Web Services are doing a great job in deploying a superfast broadband network without any public subsidy and have an excellent approach, collaborating with Connecting Shropshire to address the challenge of rural broadband infrastructure deployment.
To hear that SWS are investing in and growing their network to provide even greater coverage is fantastic, and helps towards Shropshire Council’s aim of providing all homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband.
As Cabinet member for economic growth, I know how important good connectivity is for Shropshire businesses, especially those in the visitor economy, which are often located in places remote from a wired broadband connection. It’s wonderful to read about how superfast broadband connectivity has benefited award-winning Eaton Manor, making them more attractive to visitors and streamlining their business operations.”
Case study – Eaton Manor Country Estate
Nichola Cariss, the owner of Eaton Manor Country Estate, describes the importance to her business of having a superfast broadband service: “We are very fortunate to be able to live and work in beautiful rural south Shropshire. One of the downsides has previously been very slow broadband which, as the world has become more online, became an increasing issue. Secure Web Services have provided the solution – a superfast broadband connection.
“This service has allowed us to grow our holiday-let business and provide a great service to our guests. We have accommodation for over 50 guests and provide broadband in all the properties, the games room, banqueting room and archery range. Our holiday guests love being able to stay connected while on holiday. Fast broadband has also allowed us to branch out into the business market, which use Eaton Manor for retreats and training. They appreciate having a beautiful peaceful location while still able to stay connected.
Most of the administration is now done online, again made possible by the SWS broadband service. The reliable broadband service has allowed us to grow into new markets; this has led to more jobs and helps keep our rural community a vibrant place to be.”
SWS coverage area
The map below shows where Secure Web Services is already delivering superfast broadband. If you are located in this area and you are looking for an alternative broadband service, please contact SWS on 0333 7000 227 or via their website at http://www.swsbroadband.net