Rural Parish Community Project
Ufford Village, Suffolk

Report compiled By Professor Peter Cochrane
Resident & Project Contact for the village

UffordI moved to the village of Ufford in Suffolk during 2006/7 to find a nominal 400 properties suffering very poor broadband provision and many suffering with less than 2Mbit/s from BT and other suppliers. By 2008/9 this had become critical with numerous local businesses suffering commercial damage and closures. The local community approached me to see what could be done. Despite the fact Ufford is within easy reach of optical fibre cable belonging to BT and the railway company I was given short shrift by both as they flatly refused to allow access or to provide a service.

At that point I approached three wireless providers and selected County Broadband as the most likely to be technically, practically and commercial competent.

Experience of County Broadband

From the outset I engaged with County Broadband at a deep technical and practical level and thereby gained insights into their core capabilities and operational ethos. And I should point out that Ufford is a difficult wireless location due to the number of trees. It is also a conservation area with many listed and ancient properties demanding some sensitivity towards the architectural aesthetics. To this end we developed a number of novel solutions including:

  1. Antennas hidden behind the church belfry shutters and battlements making them invisible.
  2. Strategically located and painted antennas to disguise them against the rural backdrop.
  3. Employing existing builds and masts to provide triangulated hot spot coverage.
  4. Single antenna sharing with properties linked by CAT5 or short range WIFI.
  5. Signal/Path steering around trees and buildings preventing line of sight

Summary

Ufford was not an easy undertaking or a simple project! But throughout County Broadband showed determination, adaptability, flexibility and the necessary technical capability in the design, network roll out and operational planning. Today every property that requests broadband can have a service up to 32Mbit/s both ways, but in future this is expected to be advanced further as new equipment with even better performance become available.

As a resident of Ufford and business user of the County Broadband service I have no complaints on any level. As the lead representative of the village responsible for all liaison during the roll out of the network I can only applaud the ability and dedication of this company.