The Broadband For the Rural North (B4RN) project has told this week’s FTTH Conference 2013 in London that they’ve now managed to connect 157 homes in Lancashire’s (England) Lower Lune Valley to its 1000Mbps capable community built and funded Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network.
The update marks significant progress since October/November 2012, when B4RN’s network connected its first 14 premises in Quernmore, and they recently began to do the same in Arkholme (despite a concerted attack by evil fibre eating mice).
The CEO of B4RN, Barry Forde, informed the conference today that it was spending approximately £1,000 per property to deploy the service (£750k was raised to fund this, between 2011 and 2012, as part of the 1st share offer) and had seen an average take-up of 50% (some specific routes within its coverage have hit more than 80%). The network typically focuses on the most remote 3% of rural areas, which other big commercial operators would find financially extremely difficult to tackle.
By comparison BTOpenreach is expected to charge around £1,500 to deploy its 330Mbps capable FTTP-on-Demand (FTTPoD) solution to homes or businesses that reside roughly 500 metres away from one of their NGA Aggregation Node’s (here). But this is only applicable to FTTC (up to 80Mbps) capable phone lines and those aren’t expected to reach the last 3-5% of predominantly rural areas for a fair few years, if ever.
So good news for B4RN but unfortunately most of us won’t be so lucky and will have to wait for BT to complete their FTTC roll-out before gaining access to faster connectivity. BT are currently close to covering 50% of all UK premises with FTTC (mostly in urban areas where Virgin Media’s cable network with similar coverage is also present) and have ambitions, supported by public funding from BDUK, to cover 90% by 2017 (they’ll reach 66% through private investment come spring 2014).
UPDATE 23rd Feb 2013
The stats given at the FTTH Conference appear to have been taken slightly out of context. So far B4RN’s FTTH network has passed about 300 homes and should have connected around 157 by the end of next month. Thanks to Martyn Dews for the update.