Almost 80,000 homes and businesses across the region will benefit from Openreach building new ‘fibre to the premises’ lines.
The company has unveiled plans to replace existing copper lines to at least three million properties in the UK, including around 40,000 in Shropshire, 30,000 in Powys and 8,800 in Montgomeryshire.
The upgrade will see fibre lines installed directly to people’s homes, providing far faster connections than regular ‘fibre to the cabinet’ connections where old copper wires are still used to connect the green cabinet and the building.
However the upgrade does not include areas such as Shrewsbury where the limited capacity of cabinets means many people are forced to use old ADSL connections with the slowest speeds.
A total of 14 exchanges across Shropshire are being upgraded, with the majority of homes and businesses set to benefit being in Bridgnorth, Oswestry, Wem and Whitchurch.
Exchanges are also being upgraded in Bishop’s Castle, Broseley, Chirk, Cleobury Mortimer, Craven Arms, Ellesmere, Highley, Ironbridge, Llanymynech and Much Wenlock.
Meanwhile in Mid Wales the improvement will benefit Builth Wells, Crickhowell, Caersws, Hay On Wye, Newtown, Presteigne, Machynlleth, Talgarth, Knighton, Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Llanidloes, Forden and Glantawe.
The company said its updated build plan will be fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable broadband’ to 85 per cent of the UK by 2025.
The plans also include an extension to the company’s biggest ever recruitment drive, with a further 1,000 new roles being created in 2021 on top of the 2,500 jobs which were announced in December 2020 – of which around 160 were in the West Midlands.
This means that by the end of 2021, Openreach will have created and filled more than 9,000 apprenticeship roles since 2017/18.
Connie Dixon, Openreach’s regional director for Shropshire, said: “Building a new ultrafast broadband network across the West Midlands is a massive challenge and some parts of the region will inevitably require public funding.
“But our expanded build plan means taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses. And with investments from other network builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.
“This is a hugely complex, nationwide engineering project. It will help level-up the UK because the impact of full fibre broadband stretches from increased economic prosperity and international competitiveness, to higher employment and environmental benefits.
“We’re also delighted to continue bucking the national trend by creating more jobs in the region, with apprentices joining in their droves to start their careers as engineers.
“We’ll publish further location details and timescales on our website as the detailed surveys and planning are completed and the build progresses. In the meantime, don’t forget that you can also check what’s already available which includes the thousands of homes and businesses across the West Midlands that can already access full fibre.”