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East Anglia Future 50

Remote Suffolk estate struggling with broadband coverage digs deep to achieve top speeds

PUBLISHED: 15:26 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 11 June 2019

Benacre Estate manager Edward Vere Nicoll  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Benacre Estate manager Edward Vere Nicoll Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A Suffolk coastal estate is aiming to achieve some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.

Openreach's Kevin Murphy talking Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey through the fibre build  Picture: IAN BILLINGHURSTOpenreach's Kevin Murphy talking Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey through the fibre build Picture: IAN BILLINGHURST

Landowner Edward Vere Nicoll of Benacre Estate, between Southwold and Lowestoft, is working with a county partnership and Openreach to install fibre broadband.

Last year, the team at Benacre realised they could substantially reduce the overall cost of installation - and speed up the process - by digging their own network trenches.

MORE - Not-for-profit project brings hyperfast broadband to rural East Anglia

They worked closely with the Better Broadband for Suffolk partnership, which is a partnership between Suffolk County Council, Openreach, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) and local councils, to provide access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK, with download speeds of around 330 Mbps (megabites per second).

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Mr Vere Nicoll explained that the estate was struggling to rent out some of its property because of its broadband speeds.

"The first question that most people asked was about the broadband speed. At that time, we didn't have fibre and it was proving to be a major obstacle. I got in touch with Openreach to find out more and we quickly identified three self-dig opportunities at Benacre, around 5km in total, which would make a huge difference.

The estate worked closely with farmers to get the infrastructure in palce, including pulling armoured cable through underground ducting.

"With these modern machines capable of creating a trench just a couple of feet wide, we're able to go down to a sufficient depth around the edge of fields to make sure it's out of harms way and not accidentally damaged in the future," he said. "It's fantastic that we've been able to bring some of the fastest broadband speeds available to this remote part of Suffolk. We used to get low single figure download speeds, but now we're comfortably over 300 Mbps. Faster broadband is critical to the long-term prosperity of rural communities, with an ever-increasing reliance of broadband for home and work use. Self-dig is a great option for those in a position to do so."

Benacre Estate has put itself on the superfast broadband network  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBenacre Estate has put itself on the superfast broadband network Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who is also environment minister, went to see the work in progress. She hopes other farmers and landowners will follow suit. "Connectivity is vital for communities in my constituency and I know it can be a challenge rolling out new infrastructure in rural locations," she said.

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