Superfast broadband a top priority for Shropshire, experts warn

Bringing superfast broadband to everyone in Shropshire should be a top priority in preventing the county from becoming the poor relation in the world of telecommunications, a leading expert has said.

The warning comes after it was revealed the target of having all homes in Shropshire on superfast broadband by 2020 will not be met.

David Hayward, Managing Director of Pure Telecom based in Shrewsbury, said he hoped everyone would continue to work together so 100% coverage could be achieved as soon as possible. He said leading providers were desperate for this but faced geographical obstacles.

“It is imperative we realise the need for all properties to have access to superfast broadband, it is a necessary tool to firms and individuals in the present day where connection and communication play such a vital role in our everyday lives,” he said.

“We are seeing more people working from home with many running thriving businesses but they need superfast broadband to do this and compete in a busy marketplace.

“There are also problems in some areas of the county where the more traditional business premises are also struggling to get the connectivity they need in order to remain successful.

“The West Midlands was recently named by the Government as a testbed for rolling out 5G which was wonderful news for the region but has been followed by the news that some areas of Shropshire are still not yet superfast – and won’t be for some time.

“We want Shropshire to be a leading county when it comes to technology and development and that means we need superfast broadband available if we are to attract the right business owners.”

Mr Hayward said it must be recognised that many rural businesses have been forced to take matters in their own hands by spending significant amounts of money on their internal IT infrastructure to overcome the situation of poor broadband availability.

“Shropshire currently has a 90% superfast connection rate and we anticipate that figure rising to 98% by 2021, but that still leaves a substantial number of people who will not have these benefits for some time after that.

“A recent update from Shropshire’s Economic Growth Strategy Report said the 98% figure was arrived at ‘on assumption that all opportunities for extra delivery through contracts were optimised and there were no further changes from current commercial coverage commitments which remain beyond the control of the Connecting Shropshire Programm’. Clearly this means there could yet be circumstances where this figure may not be reached by 2021.

“Getting everyone connected to superfast broadband is a top priority and I hope every effort is made to ensure everyone in Shropshire will receive the benefits at the earliest opportunity.”