Shropshire Council completes £36m superfast project

Tue, 16/05/2023 - 16:15

Around 70,000 premises have directly benefitted from three superfast broadband contracts that Shropshire Council has managed since 2013.

In the last decade, the Council has worked together with funding partners, the Government and Marches LEP to raise over £36m of capital funding to provide superfast broadband to as many premises as possible.

The first two contracts were awarded to Openreach and completed in 2020, with the final contract being delivered by Airband and closed in March 2023.

According to thinkbroadband, superfast broadband coverage in the Shropshire Council area has increased four-fold from 24% to 98.5% in this period. This coverage has also been achieved by the natural evolution of the commercial marketplace.

Shropshire Council remains a stakeholder in the new Project Gigabit delivery model but will have no direct influence on the deployment strategy, management, or delivery of the new programme.

The £24 million Project Gigabit contract concerning premises in north Shropshire was announced by the Government on Wednesday 10 May 2023. Work is progressing on the contract concerning mid west Shropshire, and the approach for the rest of the county is still to be confirmed.

To date, Shropshire Council has committed £2.5 million of additional funding to ‘top-up’ the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

The latest Shropshire contract was awarded to Freedom Fibre, with construction set to begin in February 2024.

Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture and digital, said: “It’s right and proper that we continue to support a broadband strategy that retains a focus on upgrading those premises that are on the slowest speeds.

Whilst the council’s direct involvement in the delivery of broadband infrastructure has ended, we welcome the opportunity to work alongside the Government and with broadband infrastructure suppliers to continue the success achieved locally.”