Shropshire's 2020 superfast broadband target won't be met
A target to provide all homes in Shropshire with superfast broadband by 2020 will not be met, it has been announced.
Currently about 90 per cent of premises in the county are connected to superfast broadband, and this figure is expected to rise to 98 per cent by 2021.
But Shropshire Council's aspiration is to provide all premises with access to superfast broadband within two years will not be met.
The council says it expects to achieve the target over the course of the current contracts – but no longer by 2020.
A report, set to go to the authority's full council next week, says: "Whilst this is disappointing, it has always been a recognised risk to the programme, where infrastructure providers change their original commercial commitments.
"In all cases where commercial commitments change we will continue to lobby the providers and influencers to reconsider these frustrating and impactful decisions."
Other long-term opportunities will be reviewed to enable full fibre in the county, the report says.
It adds: "We recognise the importance of full fibre as an enabler, most notably to support the long-term evolution of 5G technologies. As a result, we intend to review further long-term opportunities working with partners and Government."
As of spring last year, 52,453 premises, nearly 1,000 more than the original contract target, now have access to superfast broadband after the first contract with BT ended.
Two more contracts, with BT and Airband, are due to run until mid-2019 and 2020, and almost 18,000 premises are expected to have access to superfast broadband by then.
The authority says in the report it will continue to work with Broadband Delivery UK to boost additional superfast broadband coverage in Shropshire.
The council plans to use £1.2 million for another contract which could connect a further 700 premises.
In July the Government said in its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review that all premises should be connected to full fibre and ultrafast broadband by 2033, with traditional copper services being withdrawn nationally from 2025.
The report adds: "Whilst we welcome this long term ‘full fibre’ ambition it should be set within the context of the current infrastructure deployment challenges in a rural county.
"Superfast broadband will continue to meet many communities’ aspirations in the short to medium term - next five to seven years.
"At the same time, we recognise the importance of full fibre as an enabler, most notably to support the long-term evolution of 5G technologies.
"As a result, we intend to review further long-term opportunities working with partners and Government."