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Culture Secretary Finally Visits B4RNs 1Gbps FTTH Network in Lancashire UK

Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2013 (8:11 am) - Score 693

It might have taken a year and a change of minister but the UK government’s Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Maria Miller, has finally found the time to visit B4RN‘s community-built fibre optic broadband network in rural Lancashire (England).

The former culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, originally pledged to visit and “support” the effort last June 2012 (here) but sadly he never found the time and, following a streak of bad publicity, ended up being replaced by the Conservative MP for Basingstoke, Maria Miller, in September 2012 (here).

Never the less Miller’s visit remains remarkable because the government has so far offered little in the way of actual practical support for smaller ISPs (altnets) and has preferred to hand all of its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) related state aid funding over to BT instead.

By comparison B4RN’s project aims to connect thousands of rural homes in northern Lancashire UK via a 1Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) based broadband network (see our recent interview with B4RN), which is designed to be non-profit and operates through shared community involvement and funding.

In the video Miller, whom was brought to the area by B4RN’s supportive local MP Mr Eric Ollerenshaw, can be seen listening to the local farmers as they describe the difference that having such fast broadband connectivity has made to their business and lives. Miller then discussed some network details with B4RN’s CEO, Barry Forde, and later went on to fuse her own fibre optic cables.. apparently resulting in a “B4RN fibre necklace.. the first Secretary of State to own one“.

The strong show of support will certainly give B4RN’s efforts a big boost, at least in terms of positive publicity, although it remains to be seen whether or not Miller herself will adopt a more flexible approach to the use of public funding for alternative rural broadband projects in any future post-2015 strategy.

In addition to Mrs Miller and Mr Ollerenshaw visiting, local Lancashire County Councillor Susie Charles was also in attendance showing her support for the project.

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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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