Community Fibre Broadband for Datchworth village
After several years of frustration in our attempt to get high fibre broadband in our village with several emails going to Connected Counties, with no satisfactory replies, I (Clerk to Datchworth Parish Council) received an email from BT Community Fibre Partnerships and decided to investigate further.
I had a main contact at BT, Glen Fendall, who has been extremely helpful throughout. Glen sent a spreadsheet for me to complete which entailed making a list of as many effected resident’s details (name, address, telephone number, internet download speed) as possible. This obviously involved some footwork with the need to post letters to all residents to ask them to email me with their details. Once they had emailed me I kept a list of their email address which enabled easier contact with them for future correspondence.
Once I had as many responses from residents that I thought I may get, the spreadsheet was sent to Glen who then liaised with Openreach on our behalf. About 8 weeks later we received a cost for the upgrade (£21, 597 – obviously, this will vary for each project)
The next step was to determine how to raise the funds for this. With Glen’s help I applied for a Community Fibre Partnership grant which covers up to 50% of the cost (to a maximum of £20,000) for areas where there is a school present. We were successful with this and therefore were left with £10,798.50 to cover.
Again, with Glen’s guidance, I then proceeded to apply for BDUK Better Broadband Scheme vouchers. This is a scheme whereby a £350 voucher can be claimed towards the cost of the upgrade for each property that receives below 2Mbps download speed. I found this easier to make a list myself on behalf of the residents, however, you do have to get permission (via email is fine) from the residents to allow an individual to apply for their voucher on their behalf.
With the response from the residents I managed to apply for more vouchers than was needed to cover the remaining £10,798.50 required to cover the cost of the upgrade.
Just 50% of the cost must be covered to sign the contract with Openreach for the upgrade – which will take place within 12 months from the signing of the contract. However, Datchworth Parish Council (as ‘legal entity’) preferred to hold back from signing the contract until we were sure that 100% of the cost had been raised.
I started the initial process (sending letters to residents) on 20th July 2016 and we had raised the full amount required for the upgrade and signed the contract the beginning of November 2016. We expect our upgrade to be complete by the end of 2017.