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F4RN Community Rural FTTH Broadband Network Damaged by Vandals

Friday, July 7th, 2017 (11:14 am) - Score 1,565

The B4RN inspired Fibre for Rural Nottinghamshire (F4RN) project, which is rolling out a 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network to houses in rural Fiskerton and Morton, has been disrupted by £1,000 worth of damage after several of their cable ducts were cut by vandals.

At present F4RN, which encourages locals to help build the network and has raised nearly all of their required £150,000 investment by issuing Community Shares to anyone who wishes to invest in the scheme, has already made a lot of progress and they’ve so far managed to connect 110 premises.

Most recently the team have been busy laying down new fibre optic cable around Station Road in Fiskerton. Apparently the team packed up on Saturday afternoon and then returned on Sunday, but what they found the next day was most upsetting.

F4RN Statement

We are very sorry to report that last night the work we are doing on Station Road suffered what can only be described as systematic vandalism amounting to deliberate criminal damage.

Where we had buried duct but left some coiled and ready for customer connections, these have been cut. We had also stored two drums of ducting close to the works, but safely out of the way, ready to continue this morning – these appear to have been attacked with secateurs or pruning shears and it looks like we may have to write off several hundred meters of ducting.

As well as the financial cost of replacing the damaged ducting, we have wasted time today trying to recover what we can of the work we did yesterday. We are still assessing the damage and cannot rule out having to dig up some of the drives again to replace the damaged ducting.

Obviously we are treating this extremely seriously. The police have been informed and are investigating.

If you know anything about the damage or can provide any information that would help the police with their investigations then please let us know, or contact the police – anonymously if you prefer.

Thanks again to everyone for your tremendous support. Although this mindless act by one individual is extremely upsetting, we continue to press on with the project to make Ultrafast 100% fibre broadband available to every property on the parish.

We wouldn’t be at all surprised if the “vandal” had cut the ducts open in the hope of finding some valuable copper cable and, assuming this to be the case, then they will have been mightily disappointed to find lots of high capacity optical fibre staring back at them (fibre isn’t worth anything to dodgy scrap metal dealers, which is another good reason for using it). Either that or they were just a total ****! Pardon my French.

The good news is that the F4RN team will continue to press on with their roll-out, despite the impact of one rotten piece of scum on their otherwise excellent work.

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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.
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22 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    As B4RN was hit with something similar a month or so back, this is an odd coincidence as both networks are (on a national scale) a tiny percentage of the whole. Are there networks particularly vulnerable in some way? Is it that they are rural and thus perpetrators are unlikely to be caught? I’m now waiting for the conspiracy theorists to appear and claim something deeply sinister is happening to these brave pioneers.

    1. wireless pacman says:

      I guess it is possible that as they are all full of the rural community spirit, they assume everyone else is too. That might then mean they do not take as many precautions against such vandals as the big outfits do.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Considering how often it happens to Openreach, and sometimes even Virgin Media, then it’s not that surprising. Criminals like this seem to be very opportunistic and can pop up almost anywhere.

      Perhaps we need a new punishment. As well as being fined and going to jail (when courts allow it), police could also ban them from home broadband for a decade to see how they like losing vital connectivity. I’m not being serious but..

    3. Steve Jones says:

      My argument is on simple statistics. For every premises reached by B4RN or F4RN, Openreach service around a thousand. I wouldn’t expect to hear about every such OR event, and most of the OR serviced properties will not be rural. Even so, this does seem an odd coincidence in rather less than a month.

      I’m sure there isn’t something sinister here, but I’m sure somebody is thinking it.

    4. DTMark says:

      The timings “the team packed up on Saturday afternoon .. returned on Sunday .. the next day” might suggest that it was someone who knew the work was going on, and precisely where and that the intention was not theft, but sabotage.

      Ex-employees, or others with a grudge, BT engineers seeing someone moving to take customers who ‘should rightfully be theirs’, locals annoyed about the work in progress, kids – we can all speculate, but until someone sets up some motion detecting cameras, we’ll probably never know.

    5. AndyH says:

      @ DTMark – You’ve really hit a new low with your anti-BT rhetoric. To even mention BT engineers as possibly being responsible for this damage and vandalism is really low.

    6. DTMark says:

      All I’ve done is come up with a list of people with possible motives. And what “anti-BT rhetoric”?

      My primary suspicion would be “locals annoyed about the work in progress”. With any luck some discreet cameras can be set up to monitor these digs and then we can find out.

    7. oleg says:

      DTMarks list of potential suspects is fair IMO. BT are not whiter than white even if they have a core group of supporters.

      “To even mention BT engineers as possibly being responsible….”

      I would not say it is outside the realms of an engineer being ‘possibly’ responsible. A search on this very site for the term ‘bt employee criminal’ comes up with this result at the top a few years back…


      It was more than likely some opportunist scum bag walking/driving by. HOWEVER like DTMark i would not rule anything out as this incident and the other are very close together and very similar in damage.

      If F4RN are lucky someone has some CCTV footage of potential suspects. Either way if its an unhappy local its petty at best, if its a opportunistic theft its scummy, and if its any more than that the c*** needs locking up.

    8. Steve Jones says:

      I knew there would be someone that would bite on this one. I’m not quite sure how a BT employee using inside information to enrich himself at the company’s expense squares with the idea of super-loyal ones committing criminal damage against a rival, but there you are. I’d have thought if BT freelance vigilantes had been going around doing this against competitors we’d have heard of at least one case by now. There is, after all, a huge amount of VM (and other) kit out there simply standing in the street.

    9. DTMark says:

      My own involvement in the potential to deploy a broadband network in this village demonstrated to me that when it comes down to it, self-interest can very easily trump community interest.

      You’ll get one or two people in any small area who seem wholly community-spirited and may do great work, however, the mere mention of any change whatsoever, for instance the closure of a lane they don’t even use themselves, for half a day, creates a cause which must be rallied against and stopped.

      The fact that every single one of their neighbours is crying out for a broadband service and gives their full support to the project matters not one iota to such people.

      Hence my primary suspicion.

    10. Steve Jones says:

      I did do a search on BT employees imprisoned and every one I found was involved in some scam to defraud the company (expenses, equipment, cable). One even went so far as to set up a fake car-clamping company so that employees could submit expenses claims against tickets issued. Most utilities allow parking tickets to be reclaimed as in major cities it’s often pretty well impossible to find a local legitimate parking place.

      So much for company loyalty.

    11. MikeW says:

      A Saturday night? I’d have tended to put the likely cause down to impetuous youth mixed with drink.

      But going equipped with secateurs (google does come up with a couple of cases) doesn’t sound like a likely mix with a trip to the pub, so maybe it is just people looking for copper.

    12. FibreFred says:

      Oh dear, DTMark takes BT trolling into a whole new league. I used to think you could have quite a sensible debate with this guy, shame on you.

  2. fastman says:

    DT Mark — unbeliveiable Ex-employees, or others with a grudge, BT engineers seeing someone moving to take customers who ‘should rightfully be theirs’, locals annoyed about the work in progress, kids – we can all speculate, but until someone sets up some motion detecting cameras, we’ll probably never know.

    actually that area already covered by BDUK and 3 cab deployed — using the exact “commissioned designed” requested by the community to Openreach — so more did information

    1. AndyH says:


      It sounds like copper thieves to me (the secateurs/pruning shears are a dead giveaway). It’s all too common and a major problem these days for so many industries.

      The fact that that DT Mark even mentioned BT employees (why them? why not Gigaclear? Virgin Media? etc etc.) really shows his spite towards the company. No one in their right mind does this, unless there is some financial gain to be made.

  3. PaulM says:

    DTMark you seem to have upset the wood lice again.

    1. fastman says:


      I’m sure that had been intimated about Gigaclear or Virgin I’m sure formally that would be taken up by the appropriate legal department

      the point I made was that this area has recently gone live as part of BDUK using the commissioned design requested by the community to Openreach

    2. alan says:

      Im sure as we speak IT with its billion email addresses has spammed MarkJ to get the comments removed. It has nothing better to do.

      How dare there even be a “possibility” of anyone in BT doing anything illegal, even if its shown previously they have.

      How dare anyone even mention a “POSSIBILITY” of something. Which is instantly by the BT fluffers turned into a direct accusation even though it obviously was not.

      OK to automatically assume anyone thats been to the pub on a Saturday equals a potential copper thief though… Oh that is fine, just gloss over the fact that’s a fair chunk of the population.

      The mentality of em is unbelievable. Stick that up your legal departments proverbial.

    3. Steve Jones says:


      I’m sure MarkJ will tell us if he’s been flooded with requests to get comments taken down. Or even one.

      As there’s never been any reported instance I can find of a BT employee deliberately damaging competitor’s equipment (just defrauding their employer), it really doesn’t seem very likely at all this is what happened with B4RN and F4RN networks. However, there are plenty of known instances of copper theives having cut fibre in their search, not to mention vandalism.

      If you do no of an instance of a BT employee (current or ex) deliberately damaging competitor’s equipment, perhaps you’d care to provide the evidence.

    4. ultraspeedy says:

      Who the cable belongs to is irrelevant.

      Olegs ealier link and the quote in that story of
      “…colluded over the theft and damage…”
      demonstrates with evidence prior BT employees are not against theft or damaging of network infrastructure.

      Theft is theft, criminal damage is criminal damage, scum is scum. Who owns the property they steal or damage makes not a jot of difference. Take the Dick Turpin was a hero argument elsewhere.

      It could possibly of been another network operator such as virgin if that makes your fantasy failed argument feel better. The trouble is AFAIK none of them have documented history of vandalism or theft of their own or others network cables.

      Go dream up a new defense and argument the comments were unacceptable.

  4. Simon says:

    psul lol

  5. RuralBroadbandSucks says:

    I just feel sorry for those people at F4RN (and B4RN) who put all the time, money and effort in, because the telecoms companies decide that rural area’s wont make them enough profit but can easily do the work, and then something like this happens. Let’s hope the police are not using the broadband rollout methodology and require sufficient demand in the area or for a local community ‘my fibre was ransacked’ group to be set up before they will consider that it is worth their while for the crime to be investigate?

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