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UPDATE B4RN Connect 2450 Rural North England Premises to 1Gbps Broadband

Saturday, December 10th, 2016 (1:02 am) - Score 1,541

The B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) project, which has been busy rolling out a 1000Mbps community built and funded fibre optic (FTTP/H) broadband network to rural homes in parts of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire, has now activated its 2,450th connection and they continue to expand. JFDI.

The latest total marks a significant growth from the already respectable figure of 1,600 that we recorded in February 2016 (here), which isn’t a surprise when you consider that local people help to build the physical network and this also encourages a strong take-up (averaging around 65% in related communities, but rising to 100% in some areas).

Customers pay just £30 per month for a 1000Mbps (symmetrical) unlimited service and there’s also a one-off connection fee of £150, which is absurdly cheap when you consider that it’s a Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) style network. Of course none of this would be possible without all those excellent volunteers.

b4rn_coverage_map_dec_2016
B4RNs Coverage Map (Approximate Area of Work)

The good news is that B4RN’s roll-out hasn’t stopped and many more communities have since lined up to join the effort, often by raising enough investment locally and then gathering together a group of willing volunteers to help conduct the civil works. All under the guidance of B4RN and without any state aid support.

This week alone the network has found its way through various hedge rows and over boggy fields to reach the village of Clapham in Yorkshire, but plenty more look set to follow. In fact B4RN now hope to have 3,000 active connections by the end of April 2017. Happy Christmas to all those reached by B4RN’s network.

Communities Live on B4RN

  • Arkholme, Newton, Whittington
  • Gressingham, Eskrigg, Aughton, Halton
  • Docker, Capernwray, Borwick, Priest Hutton, Yealand Conyers
  • Quernmore, Abbeystead, Dolphinholme
  • Roeburndale, Littledale, Wray, Wennington, Lowgill, Tatham Fells
  • Tunstall, Wrayton, Cantsfield, Low Bentham
  • Melling, Hornby, Claughton, Caton Green, Brookhouse
  • Inglewhite (website)
  • Keasden
  • Yealand Conyers
  • Yealand Redmayne
  • Burrow, Overtown, Cowan Bridge, Hutton Roof, Ireby
  • Casterton (website)
  • Silverdale
  • Mansergh
  • Hincaster
  • Dent

Communities Installing B4RN

  • Yealand Redmayne, Silverdale, Storth (website)
  • Clapham, Keasden, Newby (website)
  • Cowan Bridge, Leck, Ireby, Masongill
  • Hutton Roof (website) High Biggins
  • Hornby, Farleton, Claughton, Caton
  • Brookhouse
  • Inglewhite (website)
  • Barbon and Middleton
  • Casterton (website)
  • Dentdale
  • Preston Patrick (website)
  • Lawkland, Eldroth, Wharfe, Feizor and Austwick (website)
  • Garsdale and Dent
  • Chapel-le-dale
  • Ingleton
  • Mansergh

Communities Route-planning B4RN

  • Old Hutton & Homescales, New Hutton (website)
  • Kearstwick, Old Town
  • Ingleton, Westhouse (website)
  • Barbon, Garsdale
  • Thornton in Lonsdale, Chapel-le-Dale
  • Beacon Fell, Bleasdale, Chipping, Goosnargh, Whitechapel (website)

UPDATE 12th Dec:

We should also mention that B4RN are soon to start the hunt for a new CEO after Barry Forde confirmed that he would be stepping down from the role. Much of the technical knowledge and expertise within the company has rested on a small number of people, particularly Barry, and so B4RN’s Directors think that it is “both prudent and necessary to widen the spread of both technical and managerial expertise“.

As a result Barry will be staying on as both a Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Director, although somebody else will be found to fill his CEO boots. We expect an announcement about this early in the 2017/18 financial year.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
17 Responses
  1. Ignitionnet says:

    Outstanding.

  2. david heard says:

    Wish there was more support for this company to expand the UK as a whole david

    1. Oggy says:

      David, you do realise that their business model doesn’t allow them to expand all over the UK?

  3. chris conder says:

    This model could expand over the UK, and some communities are actually doing it. (Baby B4RNs) Support for kick start would really get them going. Soft loans would really benefit altnets. B4RN actually has managed on its own, but it was hard work at the start. Well worth the effort though, and proves that if you give people the chance to help themselves then they will. Power to the people.

    PS you missed Dent, Hincaster and Mansergh off your list, those communities are now live on the network too.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      List is from b4rn’s website on Friday :), but I see it’s been updated and have added those changes above.

    2. FibreFred says:

      Of course this model can be used across the uk I don’t think that was what he meant, I beleive he meant to fibre the whole uk. Two different things

    3. Oggy says:

      Indeed I was FibreFred.

      B4RN would be unable to install FTTP in Aberdeen, I’ll use my home city, using the same model they currently use.

      That would be the case regardless of what other competitor was in the area.

  4. chris conder says:

    Thanks Mark, we hadn’t realised it hadn’t been updated until we saw your post! New outposts coming thick and fast these days. 😉

  5. NGA for all says:

    Congrats Chris, Barry and co. Could you outline the assistance of the connection vouchers if any. Yours efforts deserve huge praise, and your building through two very well funded BDUK projects in Lancashire and Cumbria.
    Are you now delivering in what was Fibre Garden?

    1. AndyH says:

      “Could you outline the assistance of the connection vouchers if any. ”

      Is this question serious?

    2. NGA for all says:

      AndyH B4RN were making a virtue of no public funding for some time. I wondered the current status and role of connection vouchers if used.

    3. Gadget says:

      @ NGA – this might add some light on connection vouchers and potential conflicts with State Aid http://www.broadbanduk.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Connection-Vouchers-promotional-flier.pdf its the small print on the last page that is the kicker.

    4. AndyH says:

      @ NGA

      Which of the 22 cities covered by the Connection Voucher scheme do B4RN supply fibre broadband to please?

  6. Walter G M Willcox says:

    Another part of B4RN’s quite astonishing Community-only funded project is their announcement of a fully diverse-routed dual fibre feed (shortly being completed) from Edinburgh and Manchester to every distribution cabinet. I don’t believe there are many such networks in the UK ?

    Note that they now span parts of around 26 telephone exchanges without even connecting to one. That is possible as B4RN designed a true symmetric point-to-point network without any asymmetric GPON components.

    As the area is vast, but sparsely populated, they currently only have around 50 cabinets. EVERY property within a Parish is provisioned with two individual point-to-point fibres and, unlike some large TelCos, cabinet capacity is maintained in advance of a requirement. A number of properties have installed the fibre without taking the service as an insurance policy to prevent ex-communication when twisted pairs fail. Others await their contract termination date but ALL benefit from increased property prices. A very small number haven’t bothered but even those have tubes installed to their boundaries as it’s much more efficient to complete all the infrastructure whilst the volunteers are enthused.

    With the exception of the Altnets, what a contrast to most of the remainder of the UK’s very small domestic true fibre network where asymmetric GPON services are only installed upon demand at quite high prices !

    1. Gadget says:

      Congrats to all the staff and volunteers. Can you clarify for us the point about leaving the connection for a small number at their boundaries? Do those unconnected (and in the rural environment potentially several hundred metres distant) properties count towards your premises passed figures?

  7. Walter G M Willcox says:

    B4RN do NOT follow the BT “premises passed” Techno-speak.

    “… has now activated its 2,450th connection and they continue to expand” means precisely that. Every one of them are ALL provided with a full symmetric 1,000 Mbps service and, being true fibre, do not require “Up to” caveats either.

    B4RN don’t bother to mention all those with fibre installed ready to be connected usually in around 24 hours of application and they are all continuously provisioned within their distribution cabinets beforehand.

    Similarly B4RN don’t mention those with tubes to property boundaries who have been informed that an application for service will take longer.

    Suffice it to say that once a Parish has elected to join B4RN and have paid for and installed the fibre tubes themselves (or by contractors paid for locally) EVERY property is provided with tubes to their boundaries and most have it installed too. One of the longer examples is Leck Fell House and Farm with a BURIED fibre tube of around 3.5 km from the nearest chamber.

    With an installation cost of only £150 and monthly charge of £30 inc VAT it is unsurprising that most realise “They’ve never had it so good” ! (Quoting the Rt Hon Harold McMillan)

  8. David Stamp says:

    As a further update mid-February, 2017 Barbon + Middleton (two Lune valley villages doing a B4RN community volunteer project together – both now in the Yorkshire dales National Park) now have their shared B4RN switch/cabinet installed in Barbon and the first 30+ properties (approaching 20% of total properties) connected to gigabit fibre.

    As duct installation is by volunteers, work continues week to week during winter, accelerating again when Spring comes.

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