North Green, Parham, Community-led Fibre Broadband
The residents of North Green, Parham have been living with very poor broadband speeds in
comparison to speeds widely available in and around the Framlingham area, typically getting less
than 2Mbps. Back in 2018 Openreach had plans to bring broadband to the green via a green box
(PCP) but this did not materialise due to planning errors and with no alternative in sight I set about
exploring the options for getting an improved connection to the green. I had heard about the Gigabit Voucher scheme, a scheme that provides government funding to areas with poor broadband infrastructure. North Green, being classed as a rural community, was able to claim the enhanced amount from the scheme as follows: Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps can use vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), and up to £1,500 per residential premise. The Gigabit vouchers are claimed by Openreach on our behalf to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable connection. Here is a brief step by step breakdown of the project:
Gathering data -
Finding out the households interested in the scheme. Going around house to house compiling a list of names and addresses only at this stage, no commitment, only to get the rough numbers of interested households. On North Green there were 10 addresses interested in the scheme. Many of the households could be classed as SMEs so enabled the higher funding voucher.
Ballpark cost -
Openreach give an indicative cost based their high-level view of the scheme. In our case the quoted price was £26500 and the vouchers were going to cover the cost so the residents would not be asked to contribute.
Design and consultation-
A meeting was held at Parham village hall, with a reprehensive from Openreach and all available residents – good turnout. We discussed the finer details, and this was a good opportunity to ask questions and get a good understanding of the scheme and our project.
This was a firmed-up quote and the finial price Openreach were going to seek to provide the
infrastructure, this did not change much from the ballpark quote and the vouchers covered the
scheme almost exactly.
Every household then confirmed their voucher via an email link sent by Department for Digital,
Culture, Media & Sport.
The contract required the community to form a Community Interest Company (CIC):
NORTH GREEN PARHAM COMMUNITY FIBRE CIC
The signing of the contract was a click of a button
There was some negotiating between the Parham Parish Council (PPC) and Openreach (OR) as the initial proposal from OR was to put in 16 new poles. This was challenged by the PPC and thankfully OR agreed to mole-plough the fibre cables underground, so no new poles were required. – Well done PPC! I think the fact that this project was via a community led and funded scheme, enabled more input into the design and installation of the service.
Work started mid May2020 and was completed late August, this was not because there was work being carried out throughout, the physical work on the green was done quickly and without much disruption (just the odd cut phone cable;)
Residents on the Green are now ordering their fibre service, this can be from any service provider and many will be connected early October. We now have access of up to 300Mbs BB speeds, with fibre BB packages starting from around £25 per month. Also, to note, although not all household signed up to the fibre scheme all households on North Green now have access to fibre BB.
Jason Wood, North Green, Parham and PPC