NPC Superfast Broadband Campaign
NPC has been working hard behind the scenes since 2015 to secure superfast broadband for the whole of the village. Almost all of the village now has the option of subscribing to a superfast broadband service.
Newbald is quite unique in that it is supplied by both BT and KCOM. BT brought about 150 Newbald properties on to their superfast service a few years ago. Although KCOM went on to offer superfast broadband to most of the remaining roads, there were still several postcodes which were excluded from both BT and KCOM’s superfast broadband. This meant that properties in those postcodes were having to deal with mediocre broadband, which was not fast enough for normal online activities.
Because KCOM had expressed an interest in supplying the excluded roads, BT would not even consider them.
KCOM conducted on-site survey in May 2016 to understand the cost and complexity of expanding its network to include the excluded roads. However, KCOM went on to take about 3 years to assess the feasibility of including them and, after much lobbying, only made a decision in late 2019. (See details below of how Newbald Parish Council involved the local MP to try and force a decision by KCOM).
Finally KCOM agreed to laying the necessary infrastructure for a certain number of the excluded postcodes but continued to exclude others as they were not commercially viable.
The laying of the infrastructure of those they agreed to include took place in August 2020. This date had been brought forward thanks again to lobbying by NPC and Graham Stuart MP.
The postcodes which continue to be excluded are 4TW, 4TL, 4SW and 4SR. Until KCOM made its position clear, BT was not prepared to look into upgrading its supply to these postcodes to allow for a superfast broadband option. Now, Newbald Parish Council has been able to apply to BT for a co-funded fibre broadband solution for postcodes 4TW, 4TL, 4SW and 4SR. BT’s Community Fibre Partnerships programme is a way for a community of any type and size to jointly fund bringing fibre broadband to an area with BT. The first stage was to get a quote from BT for connecting all the properties in the postcodes. Unfortunately, this came back as being in the region of about £500,000. Even if we were to do a ‘Community Dig’ to keep the cost down, this figure is prohibitive. Therefore the Parish Council is continuing to lobby KCOM, as Graham Stuart’s recent press release suggested they had not closed the door on the excluded postcodes.
Historical Information about NPC’s Superfast Broadband Campaign
On 14 July 2017, Graham Stuart MP came to Newbald to meet Councillors and residents who were adversely impacted by the lack of superfast broadband and KCOM’s lack of commitment to rolling it out to certain postcodes. A representative from KCOM was also there. The Clerk presented the results of the superfast broadband survey to KCOM which showed that there would be considerable interest among residents in purchasing a superfast broadband package, if only one was available to them. Armed with this new information, KCOM said it would either commit to laying the infrastructure to the excluded roads or give up its expression of interest, which would open the doors to other suppliers and/or public funding.