Self-dig case study - Cavendish

Mechanical digger working in a field



Rob Wise, the National Farmers Union (NFU) Regional Environment Adviser, had been in discussion with Openreach’s Fibre Community Partnership scheme about bringing fibre to a small six-property community outside Cavendish.


Beginning the process

Openreach provided Rob with some initial estimates which quoted a substantial sum of money for the scheme. The costings had been calculated as a desktop exercise. The quote included the possibility of the community embarking on a self-dig scheme and digging in fibre up the half-mile of farm driveway from where the existing fibre network runs. Once Rob approached the Better Broadband for Suffolk team (BB4S), and their contacts within Openreach, it was agreed to do a site survey which produced lower costings.

A line of armoured fibre cable


Mole-plough working on the roadside

Carrying out the work

Shortly after first contact with BB4S was made, Openreach revealed it was now able to deploy armoured fibre cable, which can be mole-ploughed directly into the ground, reducing costs even further, without the added step for Openreach to then run the fibre cable through ducts.

Rob obtained a quote from local contractor Miles Drainage Ltd, which has a specialised rubber-tracked mole plough to do the self-dig. The quote came in lower than doing a conventional ducted option, and for the first time brought the costs down to a price the community felt able to cover. Using the mole plough would also be less disruptive to the ground.



The combined cost reduction of the self-dig element and the lower Openreach quote brought the scheme within the affordability criteria of the Suffolk Better Broadband programme to cover Openreach’s costs.

Rob said:

“First I contacted the Fibre Community Partnership team to see if there was a solution that could be found for my community. After more than year, a solution was proposed which would not have been affordable for our community. It was at this point I contacted the Better Broadband for Suffolk team. Once the scheme was picked up by the Better Broadband for Suffolk team, combined with the reduced costs of using Miles Drainage to plough in cable, we developed an affordable scheme within months.  It took less than a day to dig in the cable and site a new junction box for Openreach to connect up to.

Openreach have now completed connecting up the self-dig to their network and we placed our order for fibre service. With fibre to the premises, our community will be able to achieve ultrafast speeds of over 300Mbps. Mine is now live and it is transforming what I can achieve given the speed at which everything happens.”

Mole plough being used