Not-for-profit project brings hyperfast broadband to rural East Anglia
- Credit: Michael Davey
A not-for-profit rural project is hoping to bring hyperfast broadband into rural parts of north Suffolk.
Villagers in Oakley, Syleham and Brockdish have expressed an interest in joining the mainly volunteer-run Community Benefit Society B4RN (Broadband for Rural North) East Anglia service. But they will need to jump some hoops before they will be in a position to mirror the example of villagers in Billingford, Thelveton, Thorpe Parva and Shimpling which on March 28 celebrated as Scole Community Centre was connected at 1000 Mbps (megabits per second).
B4RN East Anglia regional director Michael Davey, a volunteer, said the service was now just 10m away from the county boundary at Billingford Bridge near Diss and they had the go-ahead from the Environment Agency to take it across the river and into Suffolk.
But first villagers such as those in Oakley, Syleham and Brockdish will have to gather registrations of interest, form a volunteer team, and if they are confident they can raise the necessary funds to take the fibre ducts into their communities, have talks with local landowners before draft mapping for a proposed system can go ahead. Project costs can vary, but householders can end up investing typically under £1500, depending on how many get on board, to get it up and running, he explained.
An artery line has been installed by B4RN from a ‘peering point’ at London’s Docklands up to Lowestoft, via Brentwood, east of Stansted Airport, and Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds area, with break-out points possible every 4km.
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The Scole community centre will act as a demonstrator site where people can try the B4RN service, which is unlimited and costs £30 per month, for themselves. B4RN East Anglia held its first public meeting for the project in March 2017, and so far the local community has installed around seven kilometres of duct with the help of B4RN engineers.
Michael explained that the aim was to build up the network from village to village in response to demand. Landowners had generally been “very enthusiastic”, welcoming an ‘asset lock’ which meant the infrastructure remains a community asset. “We have all been really encouraged that the feedback from the farming community and landowners has been so enthusiastic,” he said.
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