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Major broadband upgrade will benefit 12,000 Shropshire homes and businesses

  • Major broadband upgrade for Shropshire

  • Freedom Fibre wins government-funded Project Gigabit contract to roll out lightning-fast connectivity to around 12,000 homes and businesses in Shropshire

Thousands of homes and businesses in Shropshire will benefit from high-speed full-fibre broadband after a £24 million government contract was awarded to Freedom Fibre.

This new three-year contract is part of the UK government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit, which aims to provide lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach communities across the UK.

Freedom Fibre’s network will be rolled out in many communities across North Shropshire including Cockshutt, Hinstock, High Ercall, Bomere Heath, Hadnall, Cheswardine and Clive, transforming broadband speeds and reliability for local residents and businesses.

Freedom Fibre is expected to start network construction in February 2024, with the first properties potentially connected to lightning-fast broadband as early as October 2024.

The award supports the government’s priority to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity across the country.

Freedom Fibre will invest thousands of pounds in a broad range of socio-economic and environmental projects across North Shropshire including running its ‘Freedom Fund’ that offers funding for good and green community-led projects within its build areas.

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, Sir John Whittingdale said:

Thanks to £24 million in government support, thousands of rural homes and businesses across North Shropshire will benefit from Freedom Fibre’s lightning-fast, reliable broadband.

Delivering the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, Project Gigabit is equipping regions like North Shropshire with state-of-the-art connectivity infrastructure and preparing them for the digital age, ushering in a new wave of opportunity and economic growth.

Freedom Fibre CEO Neil McArthur said:

We are delighted to be selected to deliver the latest full fibre broadband technology as part of the North Shropshire Gigabit project. Freedom Fibre is already delivering these services to rural homes and businesses across North West Shropshire and is pleased to be expanding our services to 12,038 homes and businesses in North Shropshire.

The project forms part of the government’s initiative to ensure a UK-wide rollout of full fibre to replace ageing copper networks. Investing £24m in the latest fibre technology, the project will end over 100 years of copper-based services and enable the delivery of high-speed full fibre to the UK.

Freedom Fibre is a network builder and will be working with several internet service providers and the local authorities over the next few years. Wherever possible we will be using existing underground ducts and overhead poles to minimise disruption.

Councillor Robert Macey, Shropshire Council cabinet member with responsibility for Culture and Digital, said:

This £24m investment is great news for communities and businesses in Shropshire as gigabit-capable broadband further enhances our ability to be a digital county. Improved digital infrastructure remains a top priority for Shropshire Council given its significant economic and social benefits and we look forward to seeing Freedom Fibre progress this exciting infrastructure project. In addition, Freedom Fibre has committed to deliver significant Social Value through the contract; examples include upskilling and employing local people, tree planting schemes, and a £25,000 Freedom Fund for local community projects.

Premises set to be reached by the contract are subject to change following detailed planning by the supplier or due to technical reasons during the lifetime of the contract.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

Project Gigabit

Project Gigabit is the government’s flagship £5 billion programme to enable hard-to-reach communities to access lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband. It targets homes and businesses that are not included in broadband suppliers’ plans, reaching parts of the UK that might otherwise miss out on getting the digital connectivity they need.

By the end of 2025, the government is targeting 85% of the UK to have gigabit-capable connectivity, and then nationwide coverage by 2030.

As the drive to deliver gigabit-capable connections intensifies, over recent months several multi-million pound local and regional Project Gigabit contracts have been awarded covering locations including Cambridgeshire, Cornwall and Cumbria.

Areas including Hampshire, Norfolk and Suffolk are all in line for contract awards by summer 2023.

About Freedom Fibre

As a UK FTTP wholesaler, Freedom Fibre is building a reliable, resilient and lightning-fast full-fibre network. Founded by industry leader Neil McArthur, Freedom Fibre offers lightning-fast broadband to towns and villages across the North West with approximately 95,000 premises passed and a goal to expand to over 150,000 properties through 2023 in its ambition to achieve a contiguous network serving 2m properties. A B2B product is also available that utilises its unique network topography and reliable XGS-PON technology, providing businesses with high end, full symmetric ethernet services and assured speeds of up to 10Gb/s.

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