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Rural FTTP Community Broadband ISP B4RN Appoints New CEO

Friday, January 15th, 2021 (2:07 pm) - Score 2,520

The community focused broadband ISP B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) has today announced that Michael Lee is being appointed to become their new CEO. Michael replaces the provider’s former founder and CEO, Barry Forde, in the role (he retired at the end of last year) and thus has some fairly big boots to fill.

The new boss is a Chartered Engineer who hails from Lancashire and studied engineering at Cambridge. His early career was in the army, where he served initially with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and then with the Royal Dragoon Guards. His post-military career has largely been with specialist consultancy companies, which involved a considerable focus in defence-related work (there’s no mention of any telecoms experience).

As it stands today B4RN have already connected well over 7,300 properties to their full fibre network and their current footprint “under build” is around 30,000 properties (many due for completion within 12 months). After that the future aim is to reach 40,000 properties passed by 31st March 2022 and possibly c.70,000 by 2025/26. Michael will no doubt have his work cut out when he formally assumes the role on 15th February 2021.

Michael Lee, B4RN’s New CEO, said:

“What I really hope is that you’ve all invested in B4RN for the same reason I was so absolutely delighted to accept this role.

For me, that’s based on a genuine belief that every household is better off with a B4RN connection. That’s not just because of the speed, but what it means for the communities to have come together in the first place to deliver B4RN.

I hope there are going to be many days when I can get my wellies on, get out in the fields, and get a bit muddy!”

We should add that B4RN has been busy building its gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to rural homes since 2012 and is registered as a Community Benefit Society (i.e. it can’t be bought by a commercial operator and profits are distributed back into the community). The provider is currently focused upon some very remote parts of Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Yorkshire.

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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.
Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Kim says:

    Will the new CEO sometimes reply in ISPreview’s comments section too? That was a reason I liked the previous CEO.

    1. Michael Lee says:

      I’ll try to Kim!

    2. Mindman says:

      @Michael Lee

      I’m not a customer or volunteer of B4RN by I wish you good luck

    3. Billy Nomates says:

      here here. Barry was a lovely gent to converse with on here. I truly think B4RN is a great company. It’s success is matched by the generosity and willingness of the rural community, it’s land owners/farmers etc.

      I only wish they would come to the not-so-rural communities forgotten by the likes of Openreach/Vodafone Gigafast/City Fibre etc.

      Michael I wish you all the success I wished for Barry and B4RN. We would love you to come and talk to us, unlike all the giants who don’t even know we exist.

    4. Fastman says:

      so billy no mates where actually are you then –

    5. CarlT says:

      Every success, Mr Lee.

    6. Marek says:

      Why would B4RN be coming to non rural-communites? That’s their point, serving most rural communities. That’s like saying someone with FTTP will dump it for Starlink because he won’t be paying money to BT/Openreach or Virgin Media.

  2. chris conder says:

    Spot on Michael, very quick response rate. We all agree we love your film and look forward to working with you as we did with Barry. Jfdi love from the volunteers xxx

    1. John says:

      Nice to see the unnecessary comments removed.

      I criticize some of the repetitive SuperFarce comments from Chris, but there’s really no need for anyone to be throwing personal insults.

      Good luck in the job to Michael.

    2. Mr Mindman says:


      Her (I assume it is) posts are cringe worthy, do they have a casting couch at B4RN as I suspect no one else would get a look it.

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