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Fibre Eating Mice Delay First 1Gbps B4RN Broadband Links in Arkholme

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 (11:38 am) - Score 2,472

The Broadband For the Rural North (B4RN) scheme, which is attempting to deploy a new community funded and built fibre optic broadband (FTTH) network in parts of rural Lancashire (England, UK), faced an unexpected delay over Christmas after rodents nibbled their way through one of the operators fibre ducts.

The project achieved a significant milestone last year after it began connecting its first homes in Quernmore to the new network. Residents of Arkholme were set to be next in line, with the first connections due to go live before Christmas, but all did not go quite according to plan.

Unfortunately B4RN’s testing revealed that there was a break in the fibre near to one of their access chambers. Closer inspection revealed that the damage had been caused by rodents, which apparently have quite the appetite for tasty fibre lines.

B4RNs Statement

We soon realised that this was in fact a fantastic lesson for us, and has saved us many thousands of pounds as this won’t be replicated elsewhere. (We will make sure of that) .We also realised that no customers were on this link, so we didn’t have to deal with hundreds of people wondering why their connection had stopped working, we had a breathing space to find the problem and fix it before anyone was inconvenienced. We also had to find a way to stop it ever happening to us again. We soon bucked up and got cracking.”

All’s well that ends well and B4RN was able to solve the problem by adding a little armour to its fibre links. A video of the situation can be found below.

Contrary to some conspiracy theories we do not believe that the mice were sent in by B4RN’s rival, BT 🙂 .

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

    And the good news is that the replacement went ahead, and now the first customers are live and very happy bunnies. They are getting speeds well over 7 or 800 megabit symmetrical and are really enjoying streaming videos and saying goodbye to the timeouts and buffering with a connection that ‘just works’. We have to thank Paul McHugh and all the volunteers who helped with the repair and apologise to the homeless mice. A good lesson learnt. B4RN wants to make these lessons public so that others don’t make the same mistakes when attempting duct share. Rodents make a home in large ducts and then chew on anything smaller within them. They can’t get into our ducts, but if you put your duct through an existing one as was done in this case make sure there aren’t other occupants!

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Congrats! 🙂

  2. Great article and video (though irony of no HD version not lost on me 😉 Bet you’re glad you tackled this before the snow came down. How long does one fibre splice take on average?

    All offices should heed this cautionary tale about mice… We had one in our office once (converted stable). The buggers will eat anything rubbery or plasticky, including the rubber from mouse wheels (ha). Just a shame they only got through to the earth cable on one of our desktop power cables and gave up before the hot wire.

  3. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    Thanks Christopher, no HD because we just film using phones and hadn’t got the upload 😉 but they do now over that side of the valley. One day we will buy a decent camera but its not high on our list of priorities.

    We fuse, blow and dig whatever the weather. Today its snowing and they are moleploughing a flat field and digging in another area.

    A fibre splice takes a few seconds, you can see from the videos it doesn’t take long, its the prep that takes the time. Our teams can do a bullet with 96-144 fibres to splice in a day. Some volunteers are faster than others, but they are all getting faster. Our main priority is always getting it done right. It doesn’t matter if it takes longer as long as its right when its done.

    1. Avatar zemadeiran says:


      I have been meaning to ask you what your costs are per meter excluding labour?

  4. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    £1.50 per metre for digging in the duct, fibre and duct different prices depending on how much is in each duct and whether its a main core route, a spur or a customer duct. Its all quite cheap really when you consider it all, and much cheaper to use and maintain and run than copper. My guess is its well under a tenner deployed. Main cost will be the equipment in the peering centres and stuff like that, but its a one off, and the more customers you get on the cheaper it works out. Another cost to factor in is insurance? Its all doable and affordable if you have a community prepared to get stuck in and graft or buy shares. It would be a lot easier with funding, but the powers that be would rather waste the money on quick fix cabinets which mean the whole job will be to do again in a few years time. We don’t only need fibre in this country we need more moral fibre in people to help them look at the bigger picture and not just getting a few people a copper go faster stripe on a clapped out network of phone lines.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      But as I’ve said so many times, it isn’t all to do again with FTTC, a small 500m run of fibre in most cases in existing ducts over existing poles bringing full FTTP to millions of people who want it

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Worth investing in armoured duct to stop the rodents?

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      As per the article above, B4RN added armour to tackle the problem.

    4. Avatar zemadeiran says:

      Thank Chris,

      I have been asked to price up the rough per metre fibre cable cost for a project down in Africa!

      No 100 year old network for them!

      Thanks again.

    5. Avatar DTMark says:

      Congratulations Chris – real cutting-edge speeds over a modern, fit-for-purpose and futureproof network.

  5. Avatar PhilT says:

    So the choice is ****** stealing your copper or mice eating your fibre ?

  6. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    You know,

    I am still for stringing up the fibre via the UK power network which has the advantage of reaching many parts of the UK.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      Following the initial strategic review of technologies available to meet the goals of the BDUK project, getting all the utility suppliers around a table to discuss how it could be ducted was the next logical step.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      I don’t know the reasoning about why it didn’t happen in the first place, it must have been looked at 10-15yrs ago now, there must have been a reason

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      It did happen before, without stellar results. See Energis for details.

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