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Jeremy Hunt MP to Support Rural B4RN Broadband Network in Lancashire UK

Saturday, Jun 16th, 2012 (7:58 am) - Score 755

The UK governments somewhat embattled Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Jeremy Hunt MP, has surprisingly agreed to visit and “support” the B4RN (Broadband 4 Rural North) project in northern Lancashire UK.

B4RN’s aim is to connect thousands of rural homes in northern Lancashire UK via a 1Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable FTTH broadband ISP network (here), which is designed to be non-profit and operates through shared community involvement and funding. This is partly because restrictive funding rules prevent them, like so many other ISPs and altnets, from being able to take part in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme.

On top of that the project could soon come under competitive pressure after April’s confirmation by the Lancashire County Council (LCC) that BT would soon begin extending their superfast broadband technology (FTTC etc.) out to 97% of the county by the end of 2014 (here). It remains to be seen whether or not this will impact B4RN’s longer term plans.

As a result few would have expected the culture secretary to take up an invite to visit B4RN’s project when it was put to him by local MP Eric Ollernshaw, whom asked: “I wonder whether [Jeremy Hunt] would be prepared to meet the Broadband for the Rural North community group in my constituency or visit the Lancashire uplands, taste the air there and see what extra we can do to maintain the momentum of this vital project.”

DCMS Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt MP, responded:

We would be delighted to provide support in any way we can, and certainly I or the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend Mr Vaizey, would be delighted to meet him and his constituents.”

A B4RN Spokesperson added:

Mr Hunt and Mr Vaizey are more welcome to come and see what the community of the Lancashire Lune Valley are doing. We will show them our ducting work, village hub cabinets, fibre optic cable splicing but most importantly our enthusiasm to get the job done and provide this part of Lancashire with a world class broadband service.

Oh yes, and of course it goes without saying, there will be cake!

So come on Mr Hunt, when are you coming to see B4RN?

It will certainly be interesting to see what kind of “support” either Hunt or Vaizey can offer. B4RN now have a golden opportunity to demonstrate why smaller altnet’s can sometimes do what big telecoms operators seem unable to achieve without huge public subsidy.

In an ideal world the government would then adjust its funding rules to be more flexible, although we suspect that the EU will ultimately have more say in whether or not that happens. At the time of writing no date for the visit has been set.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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