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B4RN Begins to Build Own Rural 1Gbps FTTH Civil Engineering Team

Monday, May 23rd, 2016 (10:36 am) - Score 1,149

The community built B4RN project, which is deploying ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband networks to remote parts of rural Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire in England where commercial operators ignore, has begun hiring to build its own in-house civil engineering team.

The company is almost entirely community funded, with nearly 800 shareholders holding a total of £1.5 million (shares) and another £1 million loaned from the community. In keeping with that much of B4RN’s fibre optic network has also been constructed with the help of tireless volunteers from related local communities, which is often done in exchange for shares.

Unfortunately B4RN still needs to hire expensive sub-contractors to conduct parts of the work that require more than a few volunteers and some spades. The operator’s CEO, Barry Forde, told us earlier this year (here) that hiring such firms was often a “painful experience” and that as a solution they were planning to set up their own in-house team.

Barry Forde told ISPreview.co.uk:

“If you want a job done to a high specification on time to our standards it’s impossible to find companies able/willing to do it. So we are taking on three staff and all the equipment needed to do the work in-house. We are also putting some of our existing staff through the Street Works Supervisor certification process so they can add to the civils team and also do some volunteer training and supervision.”

The good news is that B4RN has now officially started the hunt for a Civil Engineering Team Leader (salary of £28,000 to £32,000 – depending upon experience etc.) and the job application will remain open until 6th June 2016.

After that B4RN intends to appoint an internal operational team of two operatives, with the appropriate equipment, who can then undertake some of the road crossings and highways work rather than contracting it all out. Some sub-contracting will no doubt still be required, but this is still a significant move towards full independence.

The job description also confirms that B4RN has been successful in its application for Code Powers from Ofcom, which means that they’re now a “registered statutory undertaking able to work on the highway and install our ducts in roads and verges” (i.e. much easier to deal with than having to manage lots of tedious section 50 licences).

As it standards B4RN has so far connected well over 1,700 homes and some businesses to their community funded and built ultrafast pure fibre optic broadband network. At the current rate of progress we’d expect them to have achieved around 2,000 connections by the end of this summer and their longer term goal is now to reach 5,000.

In related news we’ve noted that B4RN’s Co-Founder, Christine Conder MBE, has been invited to do a TED Talk in Poland on 18th June 2016 entitled “Broadband in the Villages“. The talk is open to members of the public and will be held in Krakow’s Galicia Jewish Museum between 10am and 6pm CEST (details).

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. sentup.custard says:

    “Lancashire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire”
    Nottinghamshire ?
    Have I missed something ?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      B4RN also work with other communities elsewhere around the UK like F4RN for Fiskerton-cum-Morton in Nottinghamshire, albeit more of a support role.

  2. MikeW says:

    Nottinghamshire?

  3. Martyn Dews says:

    A TED Talk. Now that’s pretty cool. Well done Chris!

  4. thebuilder says:

    I must say, 1000mbps for £150 install and £30/month is a bargain!
    I am paying £40.62 (£17.99 phone line rental + £22.63 for broadband) for 50mbps in London.

    1. MikeW says:

      The national lottery had their advertising campaign stress “play makes it possible”.

      What makes a £30/month FTTP line possible is the 750 investors who gave B4RN £2,000 each (total £1.5m), plus the extra £1m in shares that comes instead of paying farmers to dig in the fibre across their land.

      It is this money – nearly £1,500 per connected property – that makes B4RN possible. Not just the £150 connection charge.

  5. FibreFred says:

    Great work all, keep it up!

  6. Darren says:

    Good to see B4RN going from stength to strength, I’d love to work for them.

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