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

Saturday, June 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.

Leave a Comment
31 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    Great news, and Jeremy or Ed will be very welcome here. We have enough cake for both of them actually, some great Lancashire farmer’s wives quality stuff no less.
    Why don’t you use one of our flickr photos for your blog Mark? We have loads. Also worth mentioning here we’re doing sponsor a metre of duct at the moment, a fiver gets your name on it for posterity…

  2. Avatar FibreFred says:

    hahahah he won’t be in office long enough to make a visit, not as an MP anyway

  3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Not obvious why there should be govt support for any scheme that does not offer wholesale access, only works by creating a local monopoly? This would certainly struggle to comply with the EU state I’d rules we’re it to be permitted to participate in the BDUK scheme. And then there are the financial viability aspects, noting the recent folding of several networks for various reasons that all appear to link back to a lack of a sustainable business model.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Agreed, whilst I’d love projects like this to work I don’t believe they should receive any public funding without any wholesale access and a solid business strategy. We’ve seen what happens with altnet’s like Nextgen us and Digital Region, they seem to do ok and then fail leaving their customers high and dry

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’d still require wholesale access but also want to see the BDUK rules improved for smaller providers. The UK has far more good altnets than bad ones.

  4. Avatar Phil says:

    Jeremy Hunt MP is a waste of space and don’t believe all these MP’s. They all lies and twists.

  5. Avatar Timeless says:

    while l believe any visit like this can have some impact in the right direction, this visit isnt so much because he believes he will make a difference its just to take the spotlight off of himself over the Levson enquiry.. hunt is under allot of pressure at the moment due to his associations with Murdoch and he needs to be seen doing something good rather than continue to look bad in the wake of the scandals he seems to have his toe in..

  6. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    B4RN is true open access, to any ISP, should they choose to work in a rural area. (most can’t be bothered) unlike what comes through your phone lines which isn’t really open access as all the ISPS buy it from the same monopoly. B4RN should be eligible for funding more so than BT getting it all, but such is life.

    1. Avatar Somerset says:

      That does not make sense, please explain. Just because BT Openreach is the single supplier of infrastructure in some areas does not stop it being open.

    2. Avatar Somerset says:

      No reply then…

    3. Avatar Deduction says:

      Maybe you should contact B4RN thereself if yo0u crave a response to your persistent questioning here that badly

  7. Avatar Martyn Dews says:

    In response to the comments above, B4RN is open access and supports ALA standards in the same way that Openreach do. Also if you take a look on the website you will find an extensive business plan. Finally just because other Altnets have had trouble doesn’t mean that B4RN will go the same route. Of course it’s a risk but if we didn’t take risks we wouldn’t innovate and progress. Furthermore there are many people in the B4RN area without Internet access that feel this is a risk worth taking.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      So TalkTalk, Sky, BE etc can supply products over B4RN?

    2. Avatar Deduction says:

      Technically none of those mentioned supply over BT or would want to over B4RN because they are all LLU providers, nice job trying to trick the B4RN people. Ill spoil it before it happens though LOL

    3. Avatar Somerset says:

      What product might TalkTalk want to provide over B4RN?

    4. Avatar FibreFred says:


      A Broadband product?

    5. Avatar Somerset says:

      What would this product be that is not part of the B4RN system? And its USP?

    6. Avatar FibreFred says:

      I’m not sure what your talking about Somerset are you saying TalkTalk would not be interested in selling broadband where there already is competition?

  8. Avatar FibreFred says:

    They are ISPs are they not ? The fact they now use Llu matters not they might still want to supply tt and sky use bt Fttc your “point” irrelevant. Who are you to say those ISPs are not interested in supplying over b4rn ?

    1. Avatar Deduction says:

      Who are you to say they are interested?

      They do not supply broadband (technically speaking) over BT equipment (excluding actual cables) so i highly doubt they would be interested in supplying to a very small area like the B4RN project.

      Doesnt matter anyway, there is no reason that area should not be entitled to some kind of funding DOESNT HAVE TO BE BDUK funding. Could be an additional council development fund they are given or numerous other things.

      All that being said im sure if others wanted to supply services over their infrastructure they would be happy to accommodate them at THEIR OWN SET PRICE, just like BT and its duct sharing policies you have beenin favour of in the past.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      I’ve asked a simple question and not to you (who is hell bent on arguing and doesn’t seem to understand what wholesale access is)

      To the B4RN respondents. Does the B4RN network offer wholesale access, i.e. can any ISP in the UK offer services over that network.

    3. Avatar Deduction says:

      Considering they havent had BDUK funding they dont have to offer wholesale access though it appears from the responses you had they would be more than willing to look into letting others use their network. No idea why you would not support such a scheme especially when BT and all have basically no interest in the area.

    4. Avatar FibreFred says:

      I’m not sure why you are so confused.

      Chris Conder said B4RN should be eligible for funding. One of the remits of BDUK funding (others being turnover) is to offer wholesale

      I’m asking them (not you) if they offer wholesale access, simple question, not for you to answer or to try to turn info an argument.

    5. Avatar Deduction says:

      I dont see where Chris Condor mentions anything about BDUK funds.

  9. Avatar SlowSomerset says:

    Talk of BDUK, anything happening there yet certainly not in Somerset.

  10. Avatar Deduction says:

    Seems to me other small companies have done more for rural people in general than anything BT or BDUK related.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Really? Tell that to the people of Cornwall. Or Rutland. Or Lancashire. Or Essex. Or the third (?) of the six million or so retail broadband customers. Or…

      In other words, yes some small companies are doing some good things, others are not, and some talk a good story but are not really proven. but there is a major difference of scale. Even if you add them all together, the total impact in rural areas will be substantially less than that of BT. Important to get things in perspective, not get carried away making wild claims.

  11. Avatar Deduction says:

    LMAO Rutland had FTTC before BT joined in LMAO. Cornwall is paid for by the government. Essex isnt even complete and areas of Essex have had their FTTC dates put back again……. ROFLMAO

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      You really need to check the facts before responding, rather than posting nonsense yet again.

      Some examples:

      Quote:”Cornwall paid for by the government” Really? I suspect that will come as a surprise to the EU and county council, which provided £30m or so between them, and to BT which provided about £90m. So the truth is BT paid most of the cost, with about a third coming from the public sector.

      Essex? I didn’t say 100% coverage did I? Plenty of towns and villages do have coverage though.

      Rutland. Some limited coverage yes, but now the whole county is getting investment from BT.

      You claimed small companies “have done more for rural people in general than anything BT or BDUK have done”. The facts suggest otherwise.

  12. Avatar Deduction says:






    Small companies have done more…….. as to facts im still waiting for you to produce any.


    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Wrong on the basics as always. No the EU is not our government, nor is the county council. No doubt both would like to be, but neither is.

      Yet again you’ve made a claim “Small companies have done more” that you cannot back up, deny the evidence in front of your eyes. Add up the investment from BT in places like Cornwall, Lancashire, Rutland. Add up the investment made by small companies in the same locations. Prove to me that the latter is mnore substantial in scale or scope if you can. I’ll not hold my breath.

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