Published: 22nd Jun 2016
Like many predominantly rural areas of the UK, large parts of Shropshire are currently struggling with limited broadband services.
The Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Broadband in Rural Areas was established to stress the need for improved connectivity in the region and has been a vocal critic of the government and BT's project to roll out super-fast broadband across the county.
Now, the group has spoken out again, calling on Shropshire Council not to renew its contract with BT for the Connecting Shropshire project.
Campaigner Patrick Cosgrove told the Shropshire Star the move would have a negative impact on the "social viability" of rural communities.
"We believe that extending the present contract with BT, which is the basis of what county councillors will be advised to do, will only succeed in widening the gulf between those areas with good broadband speeds and those with few prospects of seeing their service improved," he said to the newspaper.
"We see no reason why the contract for continued roll-out should not be put out to competitive tender," Mr Cosgrove added.
He called for rural areas with a low level of connectivity to be prioritised and criticised the fact that the homes and businesses left out of the BT rollout will only be guaranteed speeds of two Mbps, which is not feasible to make the most of the internet.
Shropshire Council is expected to decide on the contract situation at a meeting tomorrow (December 18th) and Mr Cosgrove said the Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Broadband in Rural Areas will be speaking out during the public session of the event.
Earlier this year, the campaign group walked away from the Connecting Shropshire scheme, saying it was disappointed with what had been achieved - it had previously been working with the council and BT on the project.
Mr Cosgrove said there was too great a level of confidentiality surrounding details of the super-fast rollout and claimed the group was concerned the initiative was being used for political purposes.
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