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Telford and Wrekin Set to Re-join BT and BDUK Superfast Shropshire Scheme

Monday, March 31st, 2014 (6:54 am) - Score 1,154
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The Telford and Wrekin council looks set to re-join the £24.6m Connecting Shropshire project in England, which is currently rolling out BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network to 93% of local premises by the end of Spring 2016, after it submitted a formal expression of interest.

The Labour-led T&W council is a separate local authority and dropped out of Shropshire’s programme more than two years ago. At the time the council was struggling to find £40m worth of budget savings by 2014 and thus the £700k required to match with Broadband Delivery UK’s local investment was deemed too much.

On top of that Ofcom’s data suggests that the area already has 88.20% coverage of superfast broadband (25Mbps+) which, thanks to Virgin Media’s cable network and BT’s FTTC platform, puts it close to the original 2015 target of 90%. But last year the national target was lifted to 95% by 2017 and a further £250m made available across the UK, with a total of £1.42 million being earmarked by BDUK for Telford & Wrekin.

According to a recent update from the Connecting Shropshire scheme, Telford & Wrekin has now submitted an official expression of interest for the funding.

Russell Griffin, Spokesman for T&W Council, said (here):

Whilst Telford & Wrekin is not covered in the current programme, the council has submitted an expression of interest for the programme extension which has recently been announced by Government. The council is now working on a business case which will look at whether coverage can be increased from the 89 per cent of residential and business premises that currently have access to fibre broadband.”

Meanwhile the latest update from the Connecting Shropshire scheme reveals that around 6,500 extra homes and businesses are now able to connect to FTTC/P services and the county also intends to bid for all of the extra £11m+ allocated by BDUK.

During the first year since the contract was formally signed engineers working for Openreach, BT’s local network business, have laid more than 80,000 metres of fibre optic cable, installed more than 180,000 metres of new ducting, sited more than 50 new street cabinets, moved more than 120 tonnes of earth and poured around 55 tonnes of concrete.

Overall 62,000 premises should benefit from the current work and this is expected to increase once the final plan for the latest batch of investment has been agreed, which will almost certainly involve a direct extension of BT’s existing contract.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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