Connecting Shropshire

Frequently asked questions

About the programme:

What is Connecting Shropshire?

Connecting Shropshire is a programme bringing faster broadband to the parts of the Shropshire Council area where it isn’t economically viable for private companies to provide it. The programme is due to finish in 2020.

What is superfast broadband?

When the programme started in 2013, the UK Government defined superfast broadband as being a download speed of at least 24mbps.

In contract 3, superfast broadband is defined as a download speed of at least 30mbps.

What does the counter on the front page represent?

The counter on the front page of the website shows the number of premises that have benefited from the programme and can upgrade to a broadband service with a download speed of at least 24mbps.

This figure includes premises in the programme area that have access to superfast broadband connection from build by projects in neighbouring authorities, such as Superfast Staffordshire.

How have you decided your roll-out plan?

Our roll-out plan was decided mainly on engineering logic. Our aim is to reach as many people as we possibly can with the funds available, so the roll-out is planned to be as efficient as possible.

What is the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme?

All eligible premises in the Connecting Shropshire programme area have access to a basic level of broadband (a minimum of 2mbps) via the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, see: http://connectingshropshire-dev.shropshire.local/basic-broadband-subsidy-scheme/.

Take-up information

How many people have taken a fibre broadband service over the network that’s been provided by Connecting Shropshire?

Total take-up of fibre broadband is as follows:

  • To the end of March 2014 take-up was 121 premises out of 8,399 (1.4%)
  • To the end of June 2014 take-up was 779 premises out of 16,174 (4.8%)
  • To the end of Sept. 2014 take-up was 1,719 premises out of 21,610 (7.9%)
  • To the end of December 2014 take-up was 3,246 premises out of 29,058 (11.2%)
  • To the end of March 2015 take-up was 5,385 premises out of 34,931 (15.4%)
  • To the end of June 2015 take-up was 7,072 premises out of 41,126 (17.1%)
  • To the end of Sept. 2015 take-up was 8,959 premises out of 49,032 (18.2%)
  • To the end of December 2015 take-up was 11,038 premises out of 53,043 (20.8%)
  • To the end of March 2016 take-up was 15,366 premises out of 56,856 (27.0%)
  • To the end of June 2016 take-up was 17,025 premises out of 58,323 (29.2%)
  • To the end of Sept. 2016 take-up was 19,001 premises out of 59,473 (31.9%)
  • To the end of December 2016 take-up was 21,219 premises out of 61,404 (34.5%)
  • To the end of March 2017 take-up was 23,647 premises out of 63,661 (37.1%)
  • To the end of June 2017 take-up was 25,618 premises out of 64,691 (39.6%)

These figures will be updated quarterly.

Where can I get more information?

We are continually updating this website so please check regularly. If you have any further queries, please make contact:

About Contract 3 – Airband

Why is this a good outcome for Shropshire?

An extra 14,170 premises will get a superfast broadband connection from this contract. This is 88% of gap areas we included in the procurement.

Where are the gaps?

Click the following link to access an interactive map (searchable by postcode) showing the planned/current Next Generation Access (NGA) coverage in the Shropshire Council area up to 2020: https://shropshire.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=ddc8d72666934ca4ab4f938050be4ee4

What about the gaps. When will you resolve these?

We have a balance of funding and will be seeking a solution to provide superfast broadband for the remaining gap areas now the phase 2b procurement is complete. We remain confident that all Shropshire Council premises will have access to a superfast broadband connection by 2020.

Why have you decided to award the contract to Airband?

A primary requirement for the Council was to procure a solution that provided inclusive coverage in our most rural areas. Airband have demonstrated that they have a technical solution for the Shropshire geography, which will provide the best coverage outcome within the budget that was available.

When will the contract start?

Immediately from July. Some sites can be enabled relatively quickly with 7,000 being within reach of a connection by the end of winter 2017.

When will the Airband contract finish?

Winter 2019/Spring 2020

Is this contract 2b?

This is now called contract 3.

Why’s it taken so long to conclude the procurement, which was launched back in November?

Spending public money (State Aid) on telecommunication solutions is a complicated procedure. As a result a number of assurances and processes have had to be undertaken by ourselves and partners to meet strict EU legislation. The verification and evaluation of the bids needed to be rigorous to ensure the Council made the right choice and was not open to challenge.

How much is the Airband contract worth and how much is Airband contributing?

The contract is valued £11.2m. Airband are contributing £1.4m capital. In addition Airband are contributing £19m operational expenditure.

How much money has Shropshire Council committed to the Airband contract?

Shropshire – £2.24m

Where has the other funding come from?

Broadband Delivery UK and Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

BDUK – £5.29m          LEP – £2.27m

Is wireless an inferior technology to a fibre optic (wired) solution?

Wireless technologies have continued to evolve and now provide the same broadband speed capabilities as a fibre optic solution with the same resilience. The technology has been approved as a compliant technology.

Why haven’t you opted for full fibre, which the Government are advocating?

We agree that fibre to the premises/home is an appropriate aspiration for the Government to have for urbanised areas. However, in a rural authority the size of Shropshire which has a widely distributed premises base, ubiquitous fibre cabling is unaffordable and unachievable.

In Contract 1, costs for fibre were £310 per premise. In contract 2, the cost rose to £1,265 per premise. If we had chosen a similar path for our current procurement we could not have delivered to as many premises.

How will you mitigate the adverse visual impact of masts on the Shropshire countryside?

Airband has recently completed deployment of a new wireless network across the National Parks of Exmoor and Dartmoor. They have excellent experience of working with stakeholders with interests in sensitive landscapes.

Connecting Shropshire will work closely with Airband, Shropshire Council’s planning department and other key stakeholders to ensure this contract is deployed to the benefit of all our communities. Mitigations of visual impacts include: re-using existing infrastructure/masts, locating below the skyline, planting, painting etc.

How high will the masts be and where will they be?

Existing commercial masts and buildings will be used wherever possible. Some new masts will need to be built. In many cases, new masts will resemble telegraph poles. Airband will work within the Planning guidance process which has purposely been relaxed by the Government to encourage the roll-out of Telecommunications equipment to address the frustrations of communities. Where required, full consultation processes will be undertaken and in all cases we will work with communities to ensure information is shared prior to construction.

Is wireless broadband more expensive for customers than fibre broadband?

Generally speaking, similar wireless and fibre packages have comparable costs.

Is there a choice of internet service providers off the Airband network?

Yes, Airband build the infrastructure and provide a service to the customer, but they also wholesale their network out to other Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Am I in plan to benefit?

To see if you are in the current plan, go to: https://shropshire.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=ddc8d72666934ca4ab4f938050be4ee4. The map gives an indicative view, but we won’t know for sure until the mast has been put up and commissioned.
To check availability, go to the Airband website and enter your postcode: https://home.airband.co.uk/coverage/. You can also register your interest in the project to ensure that you are kept up to date with progress.

Why does my neighbour seem to be covered and mine doesn’t?

At this stage, specific property coverage is subject to change and we’ll have more details regarding your property in the near future. Register your interest in the project by entering your postcode on the Airband website at home.airband.co.uk (if you haven’t already done so), we’ll ensure that you’ll be the first to be updated as soon as information is available.

When will I get access?

The build is split into phases, with phase 1 due for completion at the end of winter 2017. Further information will be added to the Connecting Shropshire website as the first phase progresses.

How does the system work?

Airband technology relies on ‘Line of Sight’, which means that the receiver on your property needs to have a clear view of one of the Airband transmitters. In the design and planning phase of the project, Airband use advanced software to map each property and establish where a connection can be achieved, without the need to complete an onsite survey for each property.

Is it possible to get receivers in different colours so they can be made to blend in?

In short, yes, although it is advised against where possible as there is a risk that it may hinder the performance of the equipment.

Will it cost more?

There will be a number of different providers and monthly packages available depending on the speed you require.

Are the radio waves through which we will receive the internet a health hazard?

There has been considerable research done into this question and all the evidence has shown that there are no links between the radio waves and problems with health. In fact, in a study by the World Health Organisation, it was found that the body absorbs up to 5 times more of the signal from FM radio and television than from fixed wireless base stations such as Airband will be using. To find out more, visit their report at http://www.who.int/peh-emf/publications/facts/fs304/en/

What about me?

How do I get faster broadband?

Contact your internet service provider to check availability.

What if I don’t have access to faster broadband?

If superfast broadband is not available in your area, there are alternatives that you could use to improve your current broadband speed in the meantime, such as: 4G mobile, wireless or satellite broadband.

For more information, see: http://connectingshropshire-dev.shropshire.local/alternative-broadband-solutions/.

How can I check my broadband speed?

There are various online checkers available, for example:

When will my area go live and when will I be able to order?

Here is how you can find out:

  1. Enter your phone number or postcode in the checker on our when and where page.
  2. Check availability with your internet service provider. Don’t forget that you can shop around for the deal that suits you best; you don’t have to stay with your existing provider.

I live in Telford & Wrekin, am I included in the programme?

No. Telford & Wrekin is a separate local authority with its own BDUK programme. To contact Superfast Telford, email: superfast@telford.gov.uk

I live in Shropshire on the border but my exchange is not in Shropshire, will I miss out?

No.  If you are in the programme area you are included in the Connecting Shropshire programme irrespective of the location of your service infrastructure (exchange, cabinet etc.)  If you’d like to find out more about similar broadband programmes in the bordering counties, there are links to this information on the related links page here.

What happens if I don’t get superfast broadband?

All premises in the programme area should benefit, either by having access to fibre based broadband, or from the availability of improved broadband speeds over alternative broadband technologies, see: http://connectingshropshire-dev.shropshire.local/alternative-broadband-solutions/.

All eligible premises in the Connecting Shropshire programme area have access to a basic level of broadband (a minimum of 2mbps) via the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, see: http://connectingshropshire-dev.shropshire.local/basic-broadband-subsidy-scheme/.

When faster broadband becomes available will my broadband connection speed get faster automatically?

You’ll need to upgrade your broadband package to benefit from the programme.

How to get the most out of your slow connection?

We found this page on the ‘increase broadband speed’ website useful: http://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/guide

Where can I get more information?

We are continually updating this website so please check regularly. If you have any further queries, please make contact: