Connecting Shropshire fibre broadband project marks double milestone

St Martins celebrates special century as 100th fibre broadband cabinet is switched on; 

More than 20,000 homes and businesses are now within reach of
new fibre optic network;
Owen Paterson MP hails high-speed achievement
Connecting Shropshire – the multi-million pound high-speed fibre broadband programme – is celebrating a double milestone.

Today saw the switching on of the programme’s 100th high-speed fibre broadband road-side cabinet which took the number of homes and businesses within reach of the new network to more than 20,000.

The new green metal cabinets are needed to connect local homes and businesses onto the new fibre optic network being rolled out across the county.

The Rt Hon Owen Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, joined representatives from Connecting Shropshire to unveil the road-side cabinet in St Martins, which will make the new high-speed broadband network available to nearly 300 village premises.
Mr Paterson said: “This is great news for St Martins. Faster fibre broadband is essential to local businesses and I’m certain that it will be a catalyst for the creation of new jobs. It will also transform the lives of local families, whether they’re using the technology for working from home, entertainment or education.”

The new cabinet in Coopers Lane is the first of four serving St Martins parish that will be going live in the coming weeks as part of Connecting Shropshire, a partnership between Shropshire Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, and the first of 10 to be upgraded in the Chirk exchange area*.

People wanting to find out if their cabinet has been enabled should use the new online map and easy-to-use line checker on the Connecting Shropshire website. These allow people to get up-to-date information about the status of an exchange area and to get specific information about premises by entering a postcode or telephone number. It can be accessed by logging onto: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/when-and-where/

Once an area has ‘gone live’, people will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads of up to 20Mbps**. Residents and businesses wanting to upgrade should contact their chosen broadband service provider.
The Connecting Shropshire programme is being delivered by a team of more than 50 people planning, building and commissioning the network in the Shropshire Council area.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council cabinet member responsible for broadband, said: “It’s great to see so much progress and that we’ve achieved this significant milestone within a relatively short space of time. This is testament to the hard work of the Connecting Shropshire team.”

Steve Davenport, Shropshire Councillor for St Martins, said: “I’m really pleased that fibre broadband has started to arrive in St Martins. Many people in the village will get access to much faster download speeds over the new fibre broadband network when compared to the existing copper network. I would encourage people to check fibre broadband availability with their chosen internet service provider.”

Ian Binks, BT’s regional manager for Shropshire and the West Midlands, said: “Connecting Shropshire is a huge engineering operation, but the rollout is progressing extremely well. Since the first road-side cabinet was switched on last December in Montford Bridge, our teams have continued to work hard to bring the new technology to as many communities as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Sue Schofield, chairman of St Martins Parish Council, said: “I’ve been waiting for this news for some time and I’m really pleased that fibre broadband is now starting to become available in the village. This is especially good news for the local economy; attracting new businesses and enabling people to work flexibly from home.

“As I run Broadplace*** in the St Martins Centre, I’m looking forward to being able to upgrade to fibre broadband. Fibre optic broadband will also make the centre more attractive to organisations wanting to deliver online training courses.”

Connecting Shropshire builds on the commercial roll-out of fibre broadband by the private sector, which has already made the high-speed technology available to more than 111,000 Shropshire premises.
Notes to Editors:
* The Welsh part of the Chirk exchange is being fibre-enabled as part of the Superfast Cymru programme.
** These are the top wholesale speeds available from BT’s local network business Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
*** The St Martins Broadplace offers IT learning opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. The facility is run by local volunteers who offer one-to-one support for beginners, as well as a range of workshops in digital photography, internet shopping and job-hunting online.
Please note that not all premises in an exchange area will get access to fibre based broadband and not all premises served by a fibre enabled cabinet will necessarily get a speed enhancement.
To upgrade to fibre based broadband, people should contact their chosen internet service provider.
Connecting Shropshire has the responsibility for providing access to faster fibre broadband for premises that are in the Shropshire Council area. For information about the Welsh part of the Chirk exchange area see the Superfast Wales programme website: http://www.superfast-cymru.com/home

For further information about this news release please contact: Emma Tennant at the BT Regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com (All BT news releases can be read at www.bt.com/newscentre) or
Callum McLagan at the Shropshire Council press office on 01743 255 939 or email callum.mclagan@ipande.co.uk (All Shropshire Council news stories can be read at http://shropshire.gov.uk/news/)
Connecting Shropshire programme website: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/
Photos showing the rollout of Connecting Shropshire can be downloaded for free from: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1gij7M
About Connecting Shropshire
Connecting Shropshire is the name given to the programme bringing fibre based broadband to areas where it isn’t economically viable for commercial companies to provide it. It is a partnership between Shropshire Council, BT and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) that will enable more than 62,000 homes and businesses in Shropshire (excluding Telford and Wrekin) to access faster broadband by the end of spring 2016.
When added to BT’s commercial roll-out, 93 per cent of premises in the Shropshire Council area will have access to fibre based broadband by the end of spring 2016. All premises in the programme area will be provided with access to a basic level of broadband (a minimum of 2mbps).
* 75 cabinets have been installed to date; customers can order from 55 today with a further 20 cabinets going live in the next few weeks.

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life. For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk