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B4RN Help Expand 1Gbps FTTH Broadband to Rural Cheshire UK

Tuesday, Mar 6th, 2018 (2:44 pm) - Score 2,035

A small group of volunteers from Puddington, Burton and Capenhurst in West Cheshire (England) have joined forces with the team from B4RN in order to launch B4RN Cheshire, which will further extend the operator’s 1Gbps community built and funded fibre optic (FTTP/H) broadband network.

B4RN’s ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Home (“full fibre“) network is usually constructed with the help of tireless volunteers from local communities across their patch (c.60 parishes), which is often done in exchange for shares instead of cash. After starting small in Lancashire they’re now seeing strong growth and also have networks in rural parts of Cumbria, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Suffice to say that B4RN has made a habit out of turning the more traditional commercial model of fibre optic network building on its head and going forward they expect to reach around 5,000 connections by summer 2018. All profits go back into the community and also help to build/manage the network. The downside is that this approach only really works best with “soft digs” (e.g. building over farm land rather than urban streets).

Nevertheless the group has now expanded again by joining forces with volunteers from several rural communities in Cheshire, which have been keep to adopt the same approach. Much like B4RN East Anglia, the B4RN Cheshire project exists outside of B4RN’s traditional network reach in the north of England but that doesn’t appear to have been an obstacle.


The project extends to a geographical area of some 12 square miles and incorporates the villages of Puddington, Burton, Capenhurst, Shotwick, Ness, Two Mills, Wood Bank and Ledsham (well over 1,000 premises), where receiving USO class download speeds of 10Mbps can in some areas still be a challenge.

Alison, Chair of B4RN Cheshire, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“This was the only solution that could be found to the lack of superfast broadband which has been causing such concern amongst the businesses and local residents. B4RN agreed to publicly support the project and so the campaign moved up a phase.

I just know that as a community we can do something great for our families and enable our children to have the ability to do homework and watch films while also giving ourselves the option to work from home and send and download at the same speed. It’s about delivering the lifestyle that other people have in urban areas.”

Tom Rigg, Head of Networking at B4RN, added:

“I am delighted that the B4RN Cheshire group have made such tremendous progress towards the provision of Next-generation access FTTH (Fibre to the Home) in their respective area.

It is sheer determination, commitment, and passion that brings people together in their communities to facilitate such an undertaking. It is great to see this important milestone passed and we here at B4RN look forward to working with the local volunteers, land owners, and countless others in the next phase of the project.”

The work itself began on Saturday as part of their “Dig for a Gig” event, which took place on farmland in Puddington (attended by 50 villagers and Chester MP Chris Matheson). As usual customers will pay just £30 per month for a 1000Mbps (symmetrical) unlimited service and there’s also a one-off connection fee of £150 with a 1 month rolling contract, which is very cheap when you consider that it’s a gold standard “full fibre” network.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Martin Streat says:

    Well done all.

  2. Avatar photo Marty says:

    Damn it’s not too far from where I live. Would be nice if the could do urban area’s as well. I imagine the planning involved would be a nightmare also Wirral borough council isn’t the greatest at getting the job done properly neither.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      Urban areas sadly are mostly pavements and carriageways. In those areas even B4RN would probably have to revert to using contractors. It would get expensive quickly.

  3. Avatar photo Christine conder says:

    Urban areas often have ducting in place, and even road cuts or pavement trenching could make it doable. B4RN use contractors as well as volunteers, an area that needs contracting machinery just raises more money in shares to pay for it. It still works out as affordable to jfdi. Good luck to the people of grit in Cheshire, you can do it.

  4. Avatar photo paul says:

    Please bring it over the dual carriageway into Saughall and Mollington 🙂

  5. Avatar photo AdamH says:

    I’d love to have something like B4RN here in rural West Wales (Ceredigion), where many of us are still struggling with sub 2Mbps ADSL Max connections on long EO (Exchange Only) lines to Market A 20CN exchanges! Currently trying to get FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) link installed for the hamlet, and 4G is a backup option.
    Doesn’t B4RN use “dark fibre”? I wouldn’t know how to get started to find out where our nearest connections was (in a “JFDI” kind of way, LOL) – probably many miles away.
    Anyway – congrats to B4RN, and Good Luck with your Cheshire project! 🙂

    1. Avatar photo Rhys says:

      Hi AdamH, I live in a village near Cardiff which is building a 1 gig FTTH broadband with over 20 kms of trenching and 200 properties. we qualified for welsh office grants to help pay for it. It is expected to go live within a few days. We have the biggest data storage centre in europe , NGD in Newport 3 kms away which helps with our connection to the internet.
      If we can do it, the first in wales, you can do it!!
      the project is called http://www.myfi.wales

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