Self-dig case study - Baylham Stone
Baylham Stone was not in the plan to receive Superfast Broadband as part of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme, which will achieve 98% coverage across Suffolk by 2020. Although the 16 premises in Baylham Stone were connected to a fibre enabled cabinet, residents were approximately 7km away from the cabinet. This reliance on copper cable, over such a long distance, meant that speeds diminished until they were indistinguishable from standard broadband.
Some residents utilised alternative solutions to increase their broadband speeds. This included satellite broadband – which many found unreliable – and 4G dongles once the area was 4G enabled.
Local business owner Keith Willets, who had installed a 4G aerial in his premises, was able to reach speeds of around 10Mbps – 4 times faster than the satellite connection available to him before. However, the limited provision and high cost of the service was not an effective alternative for Keith’s business.
Beginning the process
Keith contacted the Better Broadband for Suffolk team to see if there was a way for fibre broadband to be implemented in Baylham Stone. A survey was carried out to find a viable route for fibre optic cables to run and resulted in a self-dig scheme being proposed. Openreach, who conducted the survey, worked alongside Keith whose invaluable local knowledge identified a route next to a footpath where a trench could be dug. A wayleave had to be obtained from a landowner whose land the proposed route ran through. In order to acquire the wayleave an agreement was struck that ensured the trench would be dug at a minimum depth of 1.1m. The trench was fitted with ducting to allow the fibre cable to be installed efficiently. The size of cable installed provided the area with more capacity than is currently necessary but will be able to serve additional properties in future.
Carrying out the work
Progress stalled on a couple of occasions during the digging and installation process due to unforeseen circumstances arising, such as:
- Encountering a decommissioned WWII Air Force fuel pipe
- Special equipment being required to cut into the especially hard areas of ground
- Protected tree roots in the planned path of the ducting
The cost of the work was shared by properties in the area who benefitted from the new superfast fibre broadband connection. Once the works were completed, the residents had to wait for internet service providers to update their records so that they could order a Superfast Broadband connection. Once available, residents were able to order speeds of up to 300Mbps.
Keith’s business is now able to transfer larger files and documents online, video conference with clients – reducing the need to travel – and work more flexibly. Other benefits from the new connection include streaming video content without buffering or a decrease in quality. One resident is now able to order online shopping and Skype her family and friends in a high quality, uninterrupted call, where before she found it difficult to get to the shops and arrange visits to see family.
“I would definitely advise others to take on a self-dig scheme. Although they can be challenging at times, the benefit is well worth it. Despite the initial cost, I’m sure all of the houses in the area have gained value now that we have some of the fastest speeds in the county. We have all been enabled to join and benefit from the online world.”