An online petition is underway to get Shropshire Council to roll out superfast broadband to 100 per cent of the county.
Currently the Connecting Shropshire project aims to get 93 per cent of premises connected to superfast broadband. BT has been tasked with connecting the majority of homes and companies to FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband on the Openreach network, with a small number getting FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines.
Those in the remaining seven per cent are due to get a more basic service delivering speeds of at least 2Mbps.
Read our guide to Rural BroadbandPatrick Cosgrove and other Shropshire residents aren’t keen on the seven per cent being left out and so have set up the South-west Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Broadband.
As well as asking that everyone in the county get superfast broadband, the campaign wants those in the seven per cent to be prioritised for superfast rollout and for the council to work with a mix of ISPs, not just BT.
As the BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) contract has been signed and handed to BT, the campaign proposes that funding for rural coverage to be achieved with other streams.
The petition also wants the Council to address another specific issue of BT exchanges located across the border in Wales, while serving homes and firms on the English side and vice versa. It’s not clear if people in this situation stand to benefit from either Connecting Shropshire or Superfast Cymru, if at all.
The e-petition needs at least 1,000 signatures from residents for the local council to debate it at the full level. At the time of writing, over 800 residents has signed up.
The Council has already spoken of plans to seek extra funding to push superfast broadband into every corner of the county. This was following the government’s announcement to release a further £250 million of funding under BDUK, which would suggest that BT (as the sole remaining bidder) would be given more money to go the distance.
It’s clear that there’s local demand for better broadband and the Council has its own well-laid plans. The question now is how much money can be raised by the local authority to spend on the seven per cent and will it match these funds money from the BDUK pot (and BT) or will it spend it on alternative ISPs?