Shingle Street: Hamlet gets its own super fast broadband

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 May 2012

Christine Block, of Suffolk Coastal District Council, tests out the new broadband connection in Shingle Street, near Woodbridge

Christine Block, of Suffolk Coastal District Council, tests out the new broadband connection in Shingle Street, near Woodbridge


WI-FI internet hotspots are common in the world's mega cities of Tokyo, New York and Singapore - and now, a tiny coastal hamlet in Suffolk has joined them.

Fed up of waiting for superfast broadband to finally arrive in the county, the group of residents who live in the windswept idyll of Shingle Street have taken matters into their own hands.

Since the early days of the technological revolution, the 25 houses, near Woodbridge, have suffered from a painfully slow connection.

Shingle Street, at the mouth of the Ore, even struggles to get a good digital television signal and mobile phones are often useless.

But the residents were determined not to be left behind and a campaign – christened the Wilford Bridge Broadband Project – was born.

Now houses enjoy download speeds quicker than much of the rest of Suffolk – and even equalling many parts of London.

Speeds of 25mb means they can watch television on their laptops, shop and work from home – even on the beach – something that seemed unthinkable just months ago.

Instead of using cables, the so-called hotspot – a small area covered by internet connectivity – is created by bouncing a radio signal from the nearby church tower in Hollesley into the homes of subscribers.

One of the campaign leaders, Anne Page, whose house was the first to be hooked up, said: “People might think good, reliable, fast broadband is a big issue for the towns and cities, but it is more of an issue for the likes of us here in remote villages and hamlets.

“Until now people have found it impossible to work from home because the connection has been so slow.

“Hopefully now people can enjoy living on this beautiful piece of coast and still be able to stay in touch with the office.”

The campaign was run by a voluntary committee chaired by councillor Christine Block and including George Franks, Jamie Greenwell, Ray Kay, David McGinty, Fred Stentiford and Anne and Bruce Page.

The project received funding from the former East of England Development Agency, DEFRA and the European Union. The Alde and Ore Futures Project and Bawdsey and Boyton parish councils have also contributed to start up costs.

Gary Disley, managing director of Buzcom, the firm that is providing the service, said: “Even when quicker broadband arrives in Suffolk, many areas will never see fibre-optic cables and Shingle Street is one such place.

“We sit in the gap between the slow speeds of dial-up connections and the really quick fibre optic – and we offer communities that will likely fall between the cracks a solution.”

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