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Shropshire UK Opens Broadband Market Intelligence Review

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 519

The state aid supported Connecting Shropshire programme and unitary council, which alongside Openreach and Airband have so far extended the reach of “superfast broadband” (24-30Mbps+) connectivity to 68,472 additional premises, has invited ISPs to participate in a new broadband Market Intelligence Review (MIR).

At present Openreach (BT) has completed their two contracts under the roll-out programme (mostly using FTTC and a little FTTP technology), while Airband have completed phases 1-3 of their planned roll-out; the latter has put around 10,500 premises within reach of their Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) based superfast broadband network. Superfast broadband coverage across the county is now at around 94%.

However it’s noted that Phases 4 and 5 of the Airband roll-out are still in-progress and should provide access to an “ultrafast fibre broadband” connection for 2,200 premises in 40 clusters in the following parish and town council areas: Astley Abbotts, Barrow, Bicton, Hodnet, Llanfair Waterdine, Market Drayton, Pimhill, Prees, Sheriffhales and Tong. All clusters are expected to be live by early 2021.

Suffice to say that the unitary council are now starting to turn their attention to future plans (beyond the current contracts). As part of that they’ve this week invited prospective broadband infrastructure providers in the area to provide them with “premise-level information about their current/planned broadband infrastructure coverage.”

NOTE: The Shropshire Council area now encompasses 151,328 premises and nearly 60% are classified as rural.

The MIR will inform Shropshire Council’s future strategy for intervention in the broadband infrastructure market. We will also use the information to publish anonymised maps in the public domain that will provide clarity about current and planned future availability of superfast and gigabit-capable networks. These maps will inform local residents/businesses, and will also provide the supplier market with valuable intelligence about current/planned coverage,” said the letter (seen by ISPreview.co.uk).

At this point we should note that there’s a subtle difference between the aforementioned MIR and a more traditional Open Market Review (OMR). The council are not undertaking a new procurement at this stage, which would require a full OMR, as well as a Public Consultation on the defined intervention area and state aid approval by Building Digital UK.

Instead the local authority thinks there could still be some opportunities in the original intervention areas for open contracts. The MIR is thus a useful way to check their assumptions are correct, before committing any further public funding (the market is changing so fast that it can be hard to keep pace, not least with the UK Government planning to invest £5bn into gigabit broadband upgrades for the final 20% of premises).

The MIR consultation is expected to remain open until 5th on Tuesday 31st March 2020 and suppliers can request further details here: connecting.shropshire@shropshire.gov.uk or phone: 01743 252203.

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Mark Jackson
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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