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LA6B4RN to Bring 1Gbps Broadband to Leck and Cowan Bridge – Lancashire

Friday, June 12th, 2015 (10:14 am) - Score 779

The B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) project has spawned another spin-off scheme called LA6B4RN, which is proposing to roll-out a 1000Mbps capable pure fibre optic (FTTH) broadband network to connect every property in the rural villages of Masongill, Ireby, Leck, Cowan Bridge and Overtown (Lancashire, England).

In case anybody has forgotten, B4RN is a community funded and built network that is currently deploying out to make different parts of rural Lancashire, including some bordering areas in Cumbria and Yorkshire. The network has been so successful that they’re now self-sustaining and recently connected 1000+ premises to their service (here).

But B4RN doesn’t operate in isolation and they’re also liaising with other local communities to help them establish similar projects of their own, such the B4YS scheme that’s working hard to connect homes in Yealand, Silverdale and Storth (here).

The approach for those communities in the LA6 postcode (hence LA6B4RN, obviously) is thus almost identical to B4YS in that B4RN will help to organise and deploy the network, although the project itself will be largely overseen by a different group of people from the local area.

It’s worth pointing out that the regional state aid fuelled Superfast Lancashire and BT deployment of significantly slower “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) services, which aims to reach 97% of premises by the end of 2015 and 99% by around 2017/18, currently has the LA6 communities listed as “under review” (i.e. BTOpenreach are deploying nearby and considering whether to extend into the same areas). But so far there has been no firm commitment and we wonder how fast that will change after today’s news.

But B4RN has never let BT stand in their way, usually managing to beat them at their own game, and in this case the local communities of Masongill, Ireby, Leck, Cowan Bridge and Overtown also appear to have become tired of the wait. But before all this the group will need to raise the needed funding, identify the best route and form a volunteer workforce to help with the building phase.

In terms of funding, B4RN has estimated that the costs of building their fibre optic network into Leck, Cowan Bridge, Overtown and Ireby at £60,000. The local populations in each of these communities range from around just 80 (Ireby) to 260 (Leck) each.

The goal now is to begin digging this summer 2015, but that will mean getting around half of the necessary investment ready by the end of June so that they can buy the materials and any other relevant bits. Otherwise the project doesn’t yet have its own website, although the local community are active on the Fraser Hall blog.

Once deployed the service itself usually 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 and don’t need to pay separate phone line rental.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar MikeW says:

    I’m a little confused.

    As far as I can make out, the villages of Ireby, Leck, Cowan Bridge and Overtown sit in the parishes of Ireby, Leck and Burrow.

    Weren’t all of these parishes included in the original B4RN project – down to be part of phase 2? Alongside places like Gressingham, Hornby and Borwick? Then moved into phase 1 in a subsequent version of the business plan?

    Certainly the parishes are included in the map in the last story, http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2015/05/2-years-on-b4rn-connect-1000-lancashire-homes-to-ftth-broadband.html

    How come they need a separate project now?

    Masongill is the exception – being in Yorkshire, and part of a parish that hasn’t been shown so far. I wonder if that means the whole of the Thornton parish is targetted for inclusion.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Hi Mike, that’s not a “map” of coverage, more just a rough indication of general operation areas.

      But you are correct that places like Ireby have appeared in their past expansion list, although I’m not sure if today’s news is a knock-on result of not getting RCBF funding or what. Hopefully one of the Barners will stop by to clarify.

  2. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    how it works… the first shareholders put the money up, in a leap of faith to build a core through the first 8 parishes. The second wave of shareholders paid for many intstalls and fibre for most of the routes. As money started to come in and the success of the project became apparent, other areas wanted to join in before their time. The solution to this was to invite them to raise enough shares themselves to pay for their routes. This seems to have worked very well, and some of them have chosen names for themselves and their newsletters to differentiate themselves from the mother lode. They are all very proud of their smaller groups and work just as hard as the core teams. They do most of the initial groundwork and all of the digging and planning, working with the core team for training, advice and supplies. It is a pretty organic system, when one group has a good idea its shared round the others. The project goes from strength to strength, because it’s people powered. We do what the people want. We’ll continue to do everything we can to help those who quite clearly want to help themselves instead of sitting and moaning about how slow their connection is through phone lines. If they can dig to meet us, we’ll light them up. You can make plans and business plans and pick routes all you like, but in the end its the people who decide what they want, where it goes, and they make it happen. Never underestimate the rural folk, they have true grit. All they need is a bit of help, and they can achieve what the telcos can’t. Gigabit symmetrical. At an affordable price. B4RN has given them the help. The government declined to help, believing instead a snake oil salesman. You can continue to pick faults with how its all gone, or you can support us, and in doing so we may open the eyes of politicians who currently are blinkered and think fibre broadband comes down old phone lines and pays out funding for ‘homes passed’. eejits. Keep the faith. Power to the People.

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      Ta Chris (and congratulations).

      I suspected that this was one of the “local” teams that did a lot of the local routing & distribution work – I’ve seen similar things for 3 or 4 other teams around. And of course, watch what’s happening as you step over the border…

      You make a good point about the business plan, and how it necessarily alters based on the relative availability and efforts of different volunteer groups. I had seen the changes between business plans, as some areas were promoted into phase 1, as an indication that volunteers were already pushing hard for inclusion.

      I guess they needed to be tipped over the edge into action, by seeing the core route come closer and get lit.

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