Superfast broadband boost for North West Shropshire
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 Rural Optic, 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 Rural Optic – 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