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Ed Vaizey MP Praises “fantastic” B4RN 1Gbps Rural Broadband Network

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 (4:40 pm) - Score 607

The Government’s Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey, has turned a veiled criticism of Lancashire’s (England) Broadband Delivery UK programme (Superfast Lancashire) into some welcome praise for the alternative and community-built B4RN (Broadband 4 the Rural North) project.

Mr Vaizey was speaking as part of a Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) debate in the House of Commons this afternoon when he made the comment in response to criticism from Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab):

Many of my rural and farming constituents are looking to diversify, and are setting up their own businesses and working from home. Frustrated with the wait for BT to deliver superfast broadband, many have been left in the position of digging their own trenches and working with [B4RN] to deliver superfast broadband so that they can run their businesses. What message does the Minister have for my constituents who have been left in this situation?

Mr Vaizey replied:

My message to the hon. Lady, as opposed to her constituents, is that people have to make up their mind. One moment I am being berated because BT has a monopoly and now I am being berated because people are choosing a different provider. Broadband 4 the Rural North is a fantastic community broadband programme. We encourage lots of competition for BT and I am pleased that B4RN is thriving and providing an excellent service to her constituents.

The alternative B4RN network and its many off-shoots, which have had to repeatedly fight against BT’s encroachment on to their patch and cope with a difficult local authority (example), has now connected well over 1,600 homes and businesses to their community funded and built ultrafast pure fibre optic broadband network; the next goal is to connect 5,000 premises.

Meanwhile the main Superfast Lancashire (SFL) deployment of “high-speed fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) services has preferred to work almost exclusively with BTOpenreach and they’re currently aspiring to achieve 99% coverage by around 2017/18 (here), although the speeds will be significantly slower than those on B4RN’s network.

Mind you somebody should probably update the SFL website as the last news post was made in January 2015 and we’re unsure whether or not the original target (97% coverage by the end of 2015) was ever even achieved (overall total of 675,000 premises passed).

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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2 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    He completely twisted Cat’s statement round into a whine. He wasn’t being berated about other providers at all, what a man. Its as if he is blind to so many things. I wish he would come to a showtell day and learn about altnets and the great good they could do. So many more would thrive with support at the start. B4RN has had to fight tooth and nail to get going, and a lot of communities have tried and failed. The promise of funding and support never actually happened, and Ed is in pole position to sort it all out. If only he would come and learn. This is an open invite to Ed Vaizey MP.
    Come and visit us? We don’t bite. There will be tea.

  2. Avatar Walter G M Willcox

    All politicians of all persuasions will continue to struggle to do a complete U turn from the perceived “wisdom” of DCMS and BDUK in close association with the incumbent.

    One vitally important aspect which is yet to reach the consciousness of our esteemed politicians is the fact that ALL of BT’s domestic offerings are STILL being installed with monopoly-enhancing rigid asymmetric speeds; despite the fact that there are a growing number of cloud based applications etc. that can only function efficiently with symmetric services.

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