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B4RN’s CEO Becomes First Customer of 10Gbps Home Broadband

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 (9:21 am) - Score 9,216

The CEO of rural UK full fibre ISP B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North), Barry Forde, has become the first person to sign-up to the provider’s new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) plan. The first live speed test of this produced a download speed of 8341Mbps and uploads of 6644Mbps, with latency of just 1ms.

The new plan was officially launched back in April 2020 (here), albeit mostly intended as a vehicle to help show what is possible on their live network. The reality remains that most people today can’t even take full advantage of a 1Gbps connection, let alone the dizzy heights of 10Gbps, due to various issues (e.g. slow WiFi, misc. hardware limits and the various bottlenecks of remote internet servers etc.).

NOTE: Accurately speed testing multi-gigabit lines via web based speed testing services is very difficult and often the test server itself can be a bottleneck.

On top of that the monthly price of £150 inc. vat (plus a one-off installation fee of £360), which also includes ZYXEL’s new high spec AX7501 router with Wi-Fi v6, always seemed likely to discourage more casual interest. By comparison their standard 1Gbps tier is just £30 per month (plus £150 installation) and that’s one of the very cheapest gigabit tiers in the UK, which is already more speed than the majority of people really need.. for now.

I moved myself onto the 10Gb service so that I could do some real world testing to see what is realistically achievable. Lab tests are all well and good but a real customer is better,” said Barry to ISPreview.co.uk. The speedtest.net (Ookla) result was conducted using his personal home Desktop computer with an Intel x550 10G Ethernet card connected to their Zyxel router. The FTTH line itself was linked at 10Gbps back to their Quernmore node around 2km away. “It’s a full production service, not a special rigged to give special results. This is what £150/month gives you on B4RN,” added Barry.

Barry also took the opportunity to try and max out the WiFi v6 (802.11ax) chipset on his Samsung S20 Ultra G5 phone, which was linked to the same router in his home. The result produced a download rate of 865.27Mbps, uploads of 857.62Mbps and latency of 2ms (i.e. basically pushing the mobile as fast as it can go in a real-world setting) – clearly a 1Gbps line would be fine here.

Granted this is all just a bit of fun, but it’s also a glimpse of where things will be going in the future as the march of progress continues. Meanwhile the provider itself, which operates as a community benefit society and is partially built with help from local volunteers, has so far connected thousands of homes and businesses to their new fibre optic cable across rural parts of Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Yorkshire.

Going forward B4RN aims to reach 40,000 properties passed by 31st March 2022 and possibly c.70,000 by 2025/26 (details).

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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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48 Responses
  1. Antwan says:

    The first… in the UK.

    1. Ryan says:

      The the article never claimed he’s the first in UK with 10Gbps in the Uk.

      it says “has become the first person to sign-up to the provider’s new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) plan.”

      It just means he’s the first live customer of their 10Gbps service.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      I believe Black Fibre (Telcom) might have had a live 10Gbps service to one of their wealthy residential customers before this, so I’m not going to say it’s a first in the UK. We’ve also seen trial 10Gbps connections to homes before (Hyperoptic), which is another thing to consider.

    3. Rich says:

      @Kom probably a trial customer.

      Back when Be launched their bonded service, I was their first commercial (paying) customer but they had had trials prior to that.

      I’d be all over this 10G service if it were available to me.

  2. Chris@EcomFibre says:

    I’ve had 10gbps to my home for 2 years. I also seem to remember Ben (formerly) from Warwicknet had diverse 10G to his house in Coventry something like 5 years ago, maybe longer. I expect if you dig a little deeper this will be the case for most FTTH ISP owners!

    1. JamesP says:

      I can’t imagine have access to a decent 100Mbps connection, let alone 10Gbps!! 🙂 How do you find it? Do you ever crave more speed or have any issues? Be interested to know how much data you get through on an average month!

    2. Barry Forde says:

      @Chris – The newsworthy point is that this isn’t a one off special for the CEO, as you say any ISP can organize that, but a standard product. Any of our thousands of customers can order this service at the published price and expect to be converted to 10Gbs within a few days with no ECC or other costs except the standard £360 connection fee. I’m not aware of any other ISP offering 10Gbs service to 100% of their customer base at a known/published fixed cost if they request it do you?

    3. Amy Matthews says:

      yeah but you only cover the posh parts and small villages. Do a setup in Newport in Wales and then you can make that claim. Id have many 10Gbps lines for that price and the monthlies Oh you never will, as we always get missed. ADSL here!

    4. DL says:

      @Amy, unless it’s another Newport, it looks like you’ll be getting OR FTTP soonish…


    5. Jonny says:

      @Barry Forde

      There is no newsworthy point and MJ shouldn’t be providing you with a personal platform.

      We would all be happier with a B4RN story about mass expansion of your very small network rather than this one about you indulging yourself with faster speed.

    6. Mark Jackson says:

      @Jonny. You’re on an information site that is dedicated toward covering all things broadband and mobile related, both for the industry and consumers alike. We also try to promote alternative networks as much as possible. We’ve worked this way for 20 years and if you aren’t interested then simply don’t read the story and move on.

    7. Greg says:

      I know Community Fibre has an off-the-shelf 10Gbps plan, although they put it under the “business” heading on their site and charge accordingly (£500+VAT, so 4x the price of this one). Whether anyone’s using it yet is another question, though!

  3. Barry Forde says:

    @JamesP – Its early days yet and difficult to quantify the improvement. Everything seems instantaneous, clearly faster than my 1Gbs service was. However I’ve also changed my PC and now have an M.2 SSD disc so thats probably helping things along too. I suspect that it will be idle 99% of the time like all other very high speed links. But with covid and working from home via a VPN you do notice how invisible the network is. To my mind the ideal network is the one thats there 100% of the time and totally invisible, just works, like my fridge!

    1. DavidD says:

      Need a lodger Barry?

    2. The Facts says:

      @BF – have you done a test at https://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest

      Be good to see on their map.

    3. JamesP says:

      I would imagine the extra snappiness is more to do with an upgraded PC than faster internet, it’s amazing the difference an SSD makes! I cannot imagine there is much of a discernible difference in performance between a 100Mbps connection than a 10Gbps connection 99% of the time (unless moving large files).

    4. Ben says:

      Try steam! haha

    5. Keith sowden says:

      Interesting comment, Barry. Where did you buy your fridge? PS. Do you service Overton, Morecambe, LA3?

    6. B says:

      Hi Barry – can you tell me, are you using the Zyxel ax7501-b0 router? I have one of these (in prep for 10Gbps this month) and no matter what I try (channels/bands etc etc..) upload speeds are SHOCKING (as in 20-30mbit/sec max….) I currently have 1Gbps sequential and on other routers I get much better speeds. Zyxel are washing their hands of me, not interested at all!

      (PS. Not with B4RN!)

  4. Barry Forde says:

    @The Facts – just tried to do a speedtest on thinkbroadband and it failed with :-
    “We encountered a problem”
    “error code 4133 (excess download speed)”
    “check you have an internet connection and try again”
    It was showing something like 3Gbs download when it exploded!

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      At present I think it’s best to use bigger testers (e.g. speedtest.net) for multi-Gigabit lines. TBB does seem to struggle a bit with those, but they’re so rare right now that isn’t yet a big concern.

      PS – Did you check that you still “have an internet connection” 🙂

    2. Andrew Ferguson says:

      Sorry to jump in

      2 Gbps is an old legacy sanity limit that has now been upgraded..

    3. Barry Forde says:

      @Andrew Ferguson – thanks, yes you have fixed it fine. Getting a range of readings around 2.5Gbs download and 900Mbs upload.

  5. Billy says:

    How much backhaul has B4RN got?

    Gotta admit I’m extremely envious of those sorts of speeds. I’d be happy with 1Gb symmetric. Even 100/100 would be better than my 350/15

    1. Barry Forde says:

      @Billy – we lease a dark fibre pair south to Manchester Telecity loaded with our own DWDM kit with 40x10Gbs channels on it. We peer with IX-Manchester 2x10Gbs and have a 10Gbs transit link and some private connections. We also have a northbound dark fibre to Edinburgh with 40x10Gbs and peer at IX-Scotland with 1x10Gbs and have another 10Gbs transit link. Finally we have 2x10Gbs to Telehouse North in London with 2x10Gbs links to Manchester and 2x10Gbs peering links to LINX and a third 10Gbs transit link. The transit links are spread across different tier 1 suppliers for resilience.
      Traffic is about 80% peering 20% transit.

    2. Billy says:

      Thank you Barry.

      I wish you every success. If I ever end up in one of your areas, I will most certainly sign up ( but maybe just to 1gbit 😉 )

  6. David Stamp says:

    I badly miss my 1 Gigabit B4RN service when I had to move down to Kent from the Yorkshire Dales. Well done to Barry Forde and the entire B4RN team. Any chance of a 200+ mile 10 Gig Ethernet extension lead?

  7. David Bland says:

    Simple comment is: B4RN knocks the ball out of the court again! Congrats to Barry and the team

  8. Eci user says:

    Why would anyone need a connection of that speed at home…Still waiting for eci g.inp lol…

  9. TheTruth says:

    Smoke blowing exercise and his comments here prove that.

  10. DanielM says:

    Latency of 1ms, because the speedtest never LEFT the network (Notice using their own speedtest)

    1. Barry Forde says:

      @DanielM – a good point. I guess the question is what is a speed test supposed to measure? My understanding is that it is looking at the speed of the access line from the customer to the ISP’s network. Our speedtest machine is sitting at the egress point in Manchester hanging off a boundary Juniper MX480 so its giving a measure of the customer’s access speed plus our own internal network. The first bit is totally deterministic, the bit after that is contended. But beyond our own network its a jungle over which we have no control . I think its generally agreed that individual speed tests that have to traverse the wider internet are challenging to interpret! An interesting bit of froth but only mildly so. Once we leave our network we look at different measures to ensure performance such as % utilisation of trunk routes, latency, packet loss etc. and engineer those to give a good service.
      I think the whole question of speed tests is a can of worms and hopefully the ISPReview readership can help tease out the reality.

    2. The Facts says:

      @Barry – why is your upload only 6.6 when the download is higher at 8.3?

    3. Barry Forde says:

      @TheFacts – A very good question and one to which I have no answer! I find that with every speed test I do there is a difference between up and download speeds. Do any of you out there have a convincing explanation you could share with me?

    4. The Facts says:

      @Barry – if you don’t know what hope is there for the rest of us?! And this is on your own network.

    5. The Facts says:

      On TBB:
      1789.2 Mbps
      621.3 Mbps
      8 tests

  11. - says:

    Barry, amazing work! Quick question;
    -Why did you choose a 10G service rather than a partial say 3Gbps or 5Gbps if the core is 10G paths?
    -What backhaul do you have from the cabinets, I seem to remember in the past it was 2 x 10G as separate diverse connections for upto ~192 customers, i.e one path selected any given point in time = 10G capacity. Is that still the case?
    – Do you expect to see more packet loss across the network when a 10G customer is maxing out their connection? i.e down for example a 10G transit connection with 2-3G of other traffic already there?
    -Do you have a 95th percentile threshold on these 10G core paths after which you upgrade?

    1. Barry Forde says:

      @-says – a lot of questions there….Each cabinet has two diverse routes to adjacent ones running at 10Gbs as a trunked pair, so 20Gbs if both live dropping to 10Gbs if one route breaks. We have plenty of inter-cabinet fibre, 24f on each route, dedicated to these trunks so no shortage of capacity. If the 20Gbs looks busy we can up it to whatever is needed. We keep an eye on our trunks but we find that even at busy times a cabinet tends to generate well under a gig. At a guess rural users will take some time to get their kit upgraded and adopt apps that use significant bandwidth. IPlayer/Netflix etc. dont really put any load on us. Potentially we could see congestion caused by a 10Gbs speedtest on an IP transit route out of B4RN as they are 10Gbs each. However I’d expect the destination machine to be on a network that peers at either IX-Manchester or LINK and they are both 20Gbs so less of an issue. We are watching things and are ready to shift to 100Gbs pipes when needed. Our DWDM is PAM4 ready so each 10G channel can shift to 100G and LINK 100G ports are not too expensive. The big issue is the outrageous cost of 100G ports on our Juniper MX480 routers (and other carrier grade routers too, its not just Juniper thats expensive at 100Gbs.) So we are in a wait and see phase but able to change when we need to.
      No we dont wait on the 95% percentile, our upgrades happen at the 50% mark.

  12. Badem says:

    I was so gutted when B4RN installed in my town, covered the vastly underserved rural areas which was good thing and that left the rest of the town waiting for someone to install FTTP.

    Apparantly OR are going to upgrade LVELL and LVHOO and bring us FTTP but probably because Cityfibre have chosen nearby Chester for their FTTP rollout.

    1. Danny says:

      Get in touch with B4RN and see what can be done?

    2. Michael says:

      B4RN don’t install, the community installs (with the exception of work that can’t be undertaken by volunteers). If you want B4RN for your community, you need to rally the troops and run a B4RN project for your community with other volunteers. That means raising the money, talking to residents and landowners, securing wayleaves and then undertaking the work that can be done by volunteers.

      In return, you get a network that is both really fast and is very keenly priced.

  13. 10GLocalLAN says:

    Yeah great, 1ms within the same network to a test server you operate. Hardly rocket science it will be quick.

    Of course if you had multiple customers with it and they were actively able to utilise the 10 gig link to the wider internet you’d run out of peering/transit pretty quickly, so this is really just willy waving, and the reality is you’re offering it at a price you do because you’ve got barely any reason to worry as nobody can really saturate that much or often.

    Heck, you can’t even upload to YouTube and utilise the 10G and it is unlikely any domestic setting could find enough to do to saturate the link, so as “good” as it is, it’s also pretty pointless and done for PR.

    1. Spurple says:

      Sour grapes?

    2. Kaitlyn says:

      seems like a rehash of the part of the article which says most people can’t fully utilise 1gig let alone 10… 😉

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