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B4YS Start Rural FTTH Broadband Rollout for Yealand, Silverdale and Storth

Friday, January 9th, 2015 (7:53 am) - Score 1,081

Good news. The B4RN 4 Yealand, Silverdale & Storth (B4YS) project has broken out a mole-ploughing monster and officially dug its first soil as part of their community-funded and built deployment of a new 1000Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network for the three rural villages of Yealand, Silverdale and Storth in Lancashire (England).

In case it wasn’t already incredibly obvious from the name, B4YS is actually a spin-off from B4RN’s nearly identical scheme in the same county and in fact the B4RN team are also the ones managing most of the build; alongside members of the local community.

Regular readers might recall that the project successfully achieved its Stage One funding target, without any recourse to state aid, of £101,000 in September 2014 (here). This is needed to cover the cost of constructing their core network.

Since then B4YS has been busy finalising their route plan, double checking permission from local landowners and buying the necessary materials / equipment in order to begin their deployment. Happily the first soil was finally broken yesterday (pictured), thanks in no small part to a big farmer friendly mole-plough that is digging a trench for the new cable.

B4YS Statement:

The tricky first route deals with the M6, the canal, the West Coast main rail line and the A6…all within a 4km stretch! Congratulations to the Yealands team who’ve worked so hard to plan the route and obtain permission from the landowners.

Thank you to the landowners who have kindly supported us with free-of-charge access to their land, and thank you to our initial investors too; your cheques have gone towards buying the orange ducting and materials.”

The first homes are anticipated to be connected sometime this year, although many of those will require a second stage of funding to be achieved (roughly the same cost as stage one) and work on that already appears to be progressing quite well.

The service itself costs £30 inc. VAT per month and then £150 for the one-off connection fee, although for that you get an unlimited and 1000Mbps capable pure fibre optic package (note: the connection fee is waived for those who invest £1,500+).

It’s worth noting that BT and the local state-aid fuelled Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme also intend to deploy a slower FTTC service in some of the same area (Storth). But that’s never stopped B4RN before and B4YS are concentrating on a larger area than the BDUK scheme. Overall the three villages involved are home to around 3,000+ people.

Leave a Comment
17 Responses
  1. GNewton says:

    That’s the positive ‘Can Do’ spirit which is so much needed elsewhere in the UK. I wish them all the best, well done!

  2. Walter G M Willcox says:

    Those in the B4YS area can be confident that EVERY property, no matter whatever the distance, (and without the need for telephone line rental) will be provided with the B4RN symmetric 1,000 Mbps service as that is written into their Community Interest Company constitution.

    In contrast the BT FTTC VDSL service can (eventually) only provide an asymmetric service of 76 Mbps down and 18 Mbps up for those within around 300 m of the new FTTCs and green cabinets which are still being commissioned from Milnthorpe, Burton and Silverdale exchanges. BT Openreach have stated that the maximum line distance for any VDSL service is 1.8 km from a FTTCabinet which, in all probability, would achieve less than 15 Mbps download. (The same is true for Hornby exchange covering much of the B4RN area which hasn’t even got the first cabinet beside the exchange commissioned yet.)

  3. nga for all says:

    It is great to see.

  4. nga for all says:

    What is the per metre cost for mole ploughing duct and fibre?

    1. about one bacon butty per hour I would think! 🙂

    2. MikeW says:

      I’m not sure I’ve seen B4RN using £££ contractors before. Everything they’ve shown seems to have been volunteer-based. For those, IIRC, the “cost” seems to be paid in shares and/or a year’s subscription to B4RN.

  5. TheManStan says:

    Don’t they figure ~£5 per metre for the material cost of duct and fibre?

  6. TheManStan says:

    That probably includes rental of plant

  7. Chris Conder says:

    B4RN pay £1.50 a metre (in shares) for duct laid. The cost of the digs works out at about £5 a metre. That is because nobody is in it to make a big profit, just cover costs. If the landlords want to claim shares they can pay a contractor. If they want to do it themselves that is fine too. Contractors have been used on several routes. Sometimes its cheaper to bring a professional digger in as they can work faster. Sometimes its easier to do it in bits, whenever it fits in, with your own digger if you have one. Sometimes the going is tough, and it can take a week to do a few hundred metres but sometimes you can mole in 2km in a day. There are many variables, but the ingenuity of the volunteers can find a way round anything. Its true grit. And considering the majority of the volunteers are pensioners its all the more amazing what they have achieved. Without any support from Big Society. Or government. Power to the people. Let their light shine on. And let these blogs remain as a history book to show the world the story of the little people in the wilderness who got off their butts and JFDI. In the same way their great granddads generated their own electric before the towns got it. History has a way of repeating itself. Never underestimate the power of the people. Rural folk can see through the telco hype, they know only a few will get ‘superfast’ and they will be fobbed off yet again with false promises or satellites. It will be a while yet before the urban people on long lines face the truth. But their time will come. And there will be some very red faces in Westminster and Europe.

    1. NGA for all says:

      Thanks Cyberdoyle – £5 a metre on ‘softish’ ground. If £40k+ plus is being paid per cabinet in subsidies, that’s about 8km of new duct and fibe B4RN style.So how many customers are getting connected and passed over such a distance?
      It has been stated BT overlay costs for using its poles and ducts are c£3 a metre (includes the fibre cable). Again it suggests FTTP even it to a manifold on the last DP would be better than paying for power to be delivered to a cab once outside the towns and villages.

    2. Ignitionnet says:

      With the shares, volunteer work, etc, B4RN appears to be heading towards costs of around £900 per premises passed in their hyper-rural area.

      Obviously, and sadly, not something that can be replicated outside of the voluntary sector, which is unfortunate.

      In urban areas I believe FTTP can go as low as £400-£500 per premises passed.

      I think, NGA, a really massive obstacle is the relatively low incremental income Openreach are getting and that they must base their payback period on the Openreach income only. This isn’t a great deal of cash.

      Horrible as it sounds if BT were able to build the network and keep it to themselves we’d almost certainly have had a far higher proportion of FTTP in the build, with FTTC used on the outlying areas.

      Oh well 🙁

    3. FibreFred says:

      “Horrible as it sounds if BT were able to build the network and keep it to themselves we’d almost certainly have had a far higher proportion of FTTP in the build, with FTTC used on the outlying areas.”

      Totally agree

  8. Walter G M Willcox says:

    Red faces in LCC and CCC too. What have they achieved with all that taxpayers’ money ? How many have a true future-proofed symmetric broadband solution ? Given all the extra money contributed just for Fell End, can those public servants and politicians even begin to justify that cost with the paltry results obtained? Why have LCC been so unhelpful with their tiny involvement in B4RN’s civil engineering works ? Wouldn’t it be far easier for all (to achieve B4RN’s superlative systems performance) if LCC et al assisted in the maximum way possible as B4RN removes major challenges for the total infrastructure requirements for the North West ? Why are public servants and politicians exaggerating the claims of the incumbent who is totally unable to defeat the laws of physics, even if they had fully maintained their ageing twisted pair network and had sufficient resources to do the job once and do it properly ? Why is “Broadband Britain” squandering taxpayers’ cash on ridiculous TV advertisements etc. particularly with such a stupid blunder of “They won’t be fooled again” backing music ? There are far too many questions without adequate common sense answers ?

  9. themanstan says:

    Why red faces?

    The basis of this project is self-build, with almost zero payroll. Which is normally 50-60% of any costs in most industries.

    Are you saying that telecoms companies should not pay their staff?

    1. No Clue says:

      It was all agency contractors that did FTTC grunt work in my area, no doubt costing more than it would to pay their own staff, The other end of the spectrum in the next town to me was BT trainees that did the grunt work (digging, cementing etc of the cabinet in place). Minimum wage apparently. Maybe if BT planned better payroll for rollouts along with cabinet costs would not vary so much.

    2. themanstan says:

      But what happens when a big infrastructure project ends?
      Fire the excess workforce, with all the redundancy and potential union “dissatisfaction”?
      Yes, grow the workforce, but then use contractors for beyond projection workforce.
      Plain business sense.

    3. No Clue says:

      You would have to ask BT they are the ones that like to continually mention they have hired new staff, obviously its not enough if they still need to use agency workers.

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