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B4RN Cheshire Set to Begin Primary 1Gbps FTTH Broadband Rollout

Friday, May 24th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 1,647

After a long wait we’re pleased to report that the B4RN Cheshire project, which as the name suggests is a region specific off-shoot of rural focused full fibre UK ISP B4RN, is finally about to start digging work for Route 1 (i.e. connecting Capenhurst to Shotwick).

The project in Cheshire exists outside of B4RN’s traditional network reach in the north of England but it adopts an identical model, which means that volunteers will help to fund and build the new Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network by digging (soft dig) fibre optic cables into the ground, such as across fields and under roads (often done in exchange for shares instead of cash).

In this case the local 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 speeds of 10Mbps can in some areas still be a major challenge.

The main cabinet in Capenhurst (pictured) arrived earlier this year and has already been installed. Since then the team have been busy preparing their plan for the duct digging on Route 1 (pictured below – Capenhurst to Shotwick) and this is now set to start on 3rd June 2019. Some parts of this will involve the use of professional contractors.

b4rn cheshire rollout map phase1

Once completed 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 full fibre network.

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10 Responses
  1. Avatar Obidom

    This is literally 1 mile from where I live but I am to the East of the rollout area in urbanised territory.

    So close yet so far


  2. Avatar Brett Baker

    How come B4RN customers pay only £30 per month for 1000Mbps (symmetrical) connection while BT customers pay around £45 (I have taken the phone line costs off) for 300Mbps down & 50Mbps up? I think the 1000Mbps connection on BT is around £500. It doesn’t make sense.

    • In terms of regulation and deployment model, they’re worlds apart. BT is a heavily regulated commercial operator, while B4RN is a community benefit society that cuts its costs by encouraging locals to help build their network (most of which is easy soft-dig).

    • Avatar Joe

      As Marks says; I’ll guarantee B’s fixed/backoffice and admin costs are pretty minimal compared to BT/OR 🙂

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Joe: We are talking here about more than 16 times cheaper per month compared to BT. The admin costs alone don’t cause such a huge difference!

    • Avatar Badem

      @GNewton Agreed, TalkTalk offer their FTTP for around £30 a month for a full 1Gbps, other ISP are using tiered pricing for 1G positioning it as a ‘Premium’ Product of varying levels while TT UFO is 1G up and down for 1 price. Other ISPs are just milking the product then complain the uptake is not cost effective, Short Term gains is all they focus on.

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      Its just about contention – ie how many end users a 1G do you share the same 1G or 10G of backhaul or 1G / 10G / 40G / 100G or Transit or Peering

      At some point you have to have a pinch point in the network to maintain a low retail price.

      It works fine, such as B4RN model, if you design in a mechanism and capacity to upgrade that pinch point in future. But likewise it only works commercially if your costs are uniform regardless of location.

      For Openreach, they have urban FTTP and really rural FTTP all at the same wholesale pricing, despite very different cost models.

      B4RN model is not commercial (doesn’t imply it doesn’t work brilliantly and can scale, & is only limited by goodwill and local champions)

      York USO is yet to show profitability even on a small commercial scale, but really doesn’t scale up further at that price point – Vodafone / Cityfibre pricing is aggressive and time will tell if it is profitable for both parties.

    • Avatar Rahul

      @Brett: Because B4RN is installed by a group of volunteers. I watched a video of their works on youtube a couple of years ago. They are a group of community villagers who do the digging/trenching and lay the Fibre cables themselves.

      To tell you frankly, they actually deserve this £30 concession simply because they have put effort in and deserve this more than customers who have no contribution to any of these works. They have also suffered for way longer than most people in urban areas with terrible internet connection while paying the same as us in urban areas.

      They also don’t go through wayleave agreements or any other red tapes. You see these barriers cost money. For example Hyperoptic pay to recruit representatives to try and negotiate agreement deals with private building management teams and making the surveys, photos of the buildings, etc to reflect that in their website. Since all of this costs money naturally the cost of the package also goes up.

      A little bit like comparing Retail Sales Assistants/Colleagues from an electronic store like PC World. Just like those same electronics cost more in a shop because you have assistants who are paid a salary to try and convince you to buy the product. When you buy the same product online the price is slashed dramatically and no rental costs are involved to maintain a store.

      Openreach pay contractors/engineers a salary to do the digging and installation of the Fibre cables. Other ISP’s who provide a service via Openreach like for example you can get 1Gbps/200Mbps Upload with Spectrum https://spectruminternet.com/fibre-home-broadband/full-fibre/ for Full Fibre Broadband 1000/220 £99.00 per month first 6 months £159.00 per month for remaining 6 months of your contract.

      Spectrum pay Openreach to use their network and the cost goes up to £99 vs Altnet providers like Hyperoptic that charge only £47 due to their exclusive dominance independent from an Openreach network.

      This is also one of the reasons why in Eastern European countries like Bulgaria, Romania, etc have very high Fibre coverage & cheap packages because labour cost is very low compared to a British salary for the same engineer.

  3. Avatar Stefan

    Who is doing the civils works

    • B4RN tends to use a mix of volunteers, sub-contractors and they also have their own internal engineering team. But I suspect the later will remain largely based in the north.

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