First communities to benefit from multi-million pound Connecting Shropshire broadband programme are announced

The first rural communities to benefit from the £24.6 million Connecting Shropshire broadband programme were today named by Shropshire Council and BT. 

From early 2014, high-speed fibre based broadband with speeds of more than 24 megabits per second (mbps) will start to become available to homes and businesses in Montford Bridge, Montford, Bicton, Ford, Shrawardine, Pontesbury and Minsterley. In total, around 6,000 premises will get access to fibre based broadband during phase one of the programme, which will also cover the village of Albrighton (between Telford and Wolverhampton) and business premises in Harlescott. Further announcements of rural communities benefitting from phase one of the roll-out are expected to be made in January, 2014. 

Since the partnership was announced earlier this year, engineers have been busy surveying the network in order to ensure the roll-out of the new technology is carried out in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. 

As one of the most rural programmes of its kind in England, the scheme has attracted £7.8 million of funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, £8.2 million from Shropshire Council and £8.6 million from BT. It will enable more than 62,000 rural or very rural homes and businesses in Shropshire to access faster broadband by the end of Spring 2016. 

An estimated 1,300 kilometres of optical fibre will need to be laid and approximately 350 new roadside cabinets installed by a team of more than 100 engineers. The majority of premises in the programme area will benefit from speeds of 24mbps or more - all will get at least 2mbps. 

Connecting Shropshire builds on commercial fibre roll-outs to bring fibre broadband to 93 per cent of Shropshire homes and businesses (excluding Telford & Wrekin) by the end of Spring 2016. This equates to over 130,000 premises in total. 

The programme is actively seeking more funding to further extend the availability of high-speed broadband across the whole of the Council area. 

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council Cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said: “I’m really pleased that we can announce the first communities to benefit from fibre based broadband as the programme starts to move from planning and surveying to the deployment of phase one. The first communities to benefit include a mix of rural and business premises, which wouldn’t have benefitted from access to fibre broadband without the intervention of the Council. I’m especially excited about the opportunities that access to faster broadband will bring to boost the productivity of rural businesses as well as offering new training, educational and entertainment options for households”. 

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT Group, said: “This is a very exciting step forward for these communities because faster fibre broadband can benefit everyone. Whether you’re a small business wanting to stay in touch with customers and suppliers, or parents with children using the internet for homework and playing games, whatever you do online, you can do it much better and faster with fibre broadband.” 

Nick Chavasse MBE, Shropshire Business Board champion for broadband, said: “The Connecting Shropshire team have worked hard to progress this important programme. I welcome this announcement that Harlescott, which includes one of the largest business parks in the council area, is set to benefit from access to better broadband early in the project. Fast and reliable broadband connectivity helps businesses of all sizes to prosper in a number of ways, including communicating better and exploiting new market opportunities”. 

Notes to Editors: 

Connecting Shropshire programme website: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/ 

About BT 
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach. 
For the year ended 31 March 2013, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m. 

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 
For more information, visit: www.btplc.com 

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% 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