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Almost 2,000 frustrated customers in Shropshire can't get super-fast broadband

By Deborah Hardiman | Bridgnorth | Business | Published:

Almost 2,000 frustrated broadband customers in Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Ludlow have been unable to get super-fast internet from the county's main supplier.

Universal provider BT Openreach said it has been unable to find an affordable way to upgrade its cabinets in the towns.

About 94 per cent of homes and businesses in the region have access to super-fast services, but there has been concerns about the company's failure to make equipment improvements to increase provision.

Industry watchdog Ofcom defines ‘affordable’ as a service costing no more than £46.10 per month.

Shropshire Council's Connecting Shropshire programme manager Chris Taylor said: "It is the council’s understanding that there are a number of broadband cabinets in Ludlow and Shrewsbury that Openreach had planned to upgrade through their own investment.

"As a result these cabinets have never been the responsibility of our programme.

Disappointment

"Openreach have not delivered on these despite repeated assurances, most recently in October 2019.

"As a result, over 1,800 premises served by these cabinets have been unable to order a superfast broadband connection off the BT Openreach network. This has left many residents disappointed and frustrated."

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BT Openreach spokesman Chris Jones said: “With new technologies and ways of working being introduced all the time, we often re-visit areas yet to be upgraded – such as these last few cabinets in Ludlow, Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth – to see if we can find an affordable and practical solution.

"We’ve not managed to do so yet, but locations such as these are still very much on our radar."

“We have made a huge amount of progress across Shropshire making faster broadband available.

"Our commercial roll out, alongside work with the county council, has played a leading role in reaching more than 94 per cent of homes and businesses. But we know there is more to do.

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“We’re always looking at ways to extend the reach of our broadband network and regularly announce new locations (we announced 200 in January) to benefit from our build, particularly full fibre.

"Full fibre is not only faster, but it’s also more reliable and future-proof. Openreach hopes to reach four million premises by March 2021."

Investment

Other infrastructure providers now operating in Shrewsbury include Airband Community Internet Ltd & Full Fibre Limited and Virgin Media.

Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams recently took part in a Commons debate where he asked what steps were being taken to secure the effective delivery of broadband.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman replied: "The Government wants to deliver nationwide coverage of gigabit capable broadband as soon as possible.

"We are introducing a range of measures to deliver this ambition. The Leasehold Property Bill will make it easier for operators to deploy broadband in blocks of flats.

"We announced that we would be legislating to mandate gigabit connectivity in new build homes, and that we will be investing £5 billion in bringing gigabit broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

"To improve mobile coverage we are investing £200 million into the 5G test beds and trials programme. We have also announced the £1bn Shared Rural Network deal with the mobile network operators to increase 4G coverage throughout the UK to 95 per cent by the end of 2025."

More details about faster broadband connection are available by emailing connecting.shropshire@shropshire.gov.uk

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman
@Deborahh_Star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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