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Vandals Knock-out B4RN’s 1Gbps FTTH Broadband to Leck and Ingleton

Monday, June 5th, 2017 (8:17 am) - Score 1,804

Residents of two rural villages – Leck (Lancashire) and Ingleton (North Yorkshire) – were left without access to B4RN’s 1Gbps community built Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network on Friday afternoon (2nd June @ around 4:30pm) after vandals dug up and cut one of their core cable ducts.

The deliberate damage cut connectivity for everybody in Ingleton and a couple of properties in Leck. Unfortunately Ingleton suffered the sharpest shock because B4RN have yet to complete their route diversification work in that area, which would have given the network significantly better redundancy in the case of such an incident (most of their network has already benefited from this).

Thankfully B4RN had no trouble locating the fault and engineers then worked through the night to fix the network and splice together 384 fibres (i.e. two core cables with 192 fibres each). According to their Service Status and Facebook page, the main core to Ingleton was reconnected by 10:45pm and all customers were then back online by 4:38am on Saturday morning.

At this stage it’s unclear why vandals would target B4RN’s fibre optic cables, although it’s possible that they could have mistaken them for BT’s nearby copper cables (copper can fetch a nice price at dodgy scrap metal dealers) or perhaps the aim was to disrupt local alarms etc.

In any case B4RN’s engineering team had everybody back online in good time and once the redundancy work is complete then any future incidents should cause significantly less disruption. Sadly all networks can suffer problems like this.

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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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15 Responses
  1. James

    192 x 2 is 384 – wow I just had to take that away as the most important bit I have learnt today!

    Sorry your 1Gbps line was cut – they are unlikely to touch my 512k connection, first world problems eh?

    • CarlT

      Far more interested in your connection I am sure, but it was a well taken opportunity to complain about your broadband speed, even if the link was tenuous.

  2. DTMark

    That the perpetrator knew where to hit to cause this level of disruption * and that they dug up and still cut the cable anyway might imply this was malicious.

    * Unless the cable was poorly buried and sticking out of the ground and so very obvious

  3. Steve Jones

    My bet was that this was done on the mistaken idea that this was copper. Given the rural nature of the B4RN network, the perpetrators might have figured they were less likely to be disturbed. I suspect B4RN ducting isn’t buried very deep, and the route will be given away by access points.

    I doubt very much it’s vandals as it would surely have taken deliberate intent to go to a rural location equipped with the tools to cut and pull up a cable. You certainly won’t do it with your bare hands.

    In any event, a good job to get so many fibre connections remade (also one of the downsides of PP vs GPON as there will be more fibre connections to remake on this sort of link).

  4. Darren

    Aaw bless. Looking forward to some delitious copper.. such a shame your time was wasted – Haha you Parasites.

  5. Darren

    Well done B4RN for getting it fixed in a timely manner. Love the status updates.

  6. alan

    384 fibre fibre splices in 12 hours (or 720 minutes) is impressive that is not far off 2 splices per minute (1.87 per min).
    Well done to them indeed.

  7. Fact Check

    “once the redundancy work is complete then any future incidents should cause significantly less disruption. Sadly all networks can suffer problems like this.”

    Should the last sentence not be “Sadly all networks which lack redundancy can suffer problems like this.” ?

    • Ultraspeedy

      If you chop through a supply cable how much network redundancy you have won’t matter a jot.

    • Fact Check


      As most definitions of a redundant network would involve any node on the network being connected to two other nodes, ie an N+1 topology, then should somebody “chop through a supply cable” it would be expected that the redundant path would allow service to be maintained while this path is repaired..

      However as the article states that “once the redundancy work is complete then any future incidents should cause significantly less disruption” it would appear that the operator was aware of the fact this area of their network lacked the redundancy that may be present elsewhere, hence their network as a whole is some way away from being truly redundant.

      To be fair, this may well be there case for some areas of any broadband access network but in the interests of clarity it seems worth highlighting that issues such as this are entirely preventable simply by designing and building a network with at N+1 redundancy on all elements used to provide the service to their customers..

  8. Fact Check: simple economics and availability of people kick in there: when you’re building an altnet with significant volunteer input, first priority is JFDI – getting a service to properties – that gets revenue coming in. Then you start to diversify your connections as resources permit, and starting with the links that give the greatest redundancy to the most people at the lowest cost. In fact, the longest lead for redundant links is often just getting the route organised and the requisite wayleaves from landowners. I’m not speaking for B4RN, but they, like any other operator, will be entirely aware of what’s needed – there’s just an inevitable gap between intent and execution.

  9. chris conder

    Thanks to all supportive comments here, nice to know a few understand network building. Fact check, there isn’t a second link to FTTC cabinets is there? Nor is there generator backup in power failure once the battery is used up is there?

    Unlike B4RN – even in these early stages it is far better than what is being rolled out all over the UK. Also the splicing didn’t actually take 12 hours. A lot of that time was spent blowing repair fibre through, digging a new chamber and the prep for two new enclosures. At a rough guess I would think the splicing took 6 hours, because the first links came up about 10.30, the fusing was all done at 4.30 and the clearing up finished by 5.30. Sums aren’t my strong point but that equates to a splice a minute, including wrapping? The rapid response team are brilliant, as are the back office staff who stayed late reassuring customers and doing updates. A special thanks to one of the locals, Paul, who turned up with a spade to dig the new chamber with the team. Many hands made light work. It is still a mystery why anyone would do this damage, but least said soonest mended. JFDI.

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