Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

B4RN Celebrates 10 Years of Bringing FTTP Broadband to Rural Areas

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 (10:21 am) - Score 1,104
B4RN FTTP Cabinet in the Snow

Community ISP B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North), which are deploying a 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across rural premises in England, has today marked the 10th anniversary of their share launch. The network currently covers around 20,000 premises and has connected 9,000 of those.

B4RN is somewhat of a rarity in the UK ISP world as they’re a registered Community Benefit Society (i.e. the provider can’t be bought by a commercial operator and profits are distributed back into the community). The provider first began deploying “full fibre” services to remote rural homes in Lancashire during 2012 (the ‘share’ offer launched a year prior to that) and they’ve since expanded across parts of Cheshire, Cumbria, Northumberland, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Yorkshire.

NOTE: Customers of the service pay £30 per month for a symmetric 1Gbps connection (plus £150 installation) and if you want 10Gbps then that will set you back £150 per month (plus £360 installation).

Originally, the majority of their network was funded by communities investing in the company through shares, and many of those did that while also helping to physically build the new fibre infrastructure (volunteers on soft digs through fields etc.). But more recently they’ve also been harnessing millions of pounds worth of gigabit vouchers and community investment loans, which has enabled them to build faster and establish their own engineers.

Unlike many other full fibre networks, B4RN offers 100% of properties in a community an FTTP connection, “no matter how hard they are to reach, and with no additional cost passed on to the individual.”

Barry Forde, B4RN’s Former CEO, said:

“Remember back in those days, people weren’t doing this sort of stuff. They were doing very traditional dig up the road type models or sling up telegraph poles. So the way we were looking at doing it was fairly radically different. But the reason for doing that was to get the cost into something that we thought was going to be affordable. That was a lot of work to come up with that design and there was a lot of challenge in presenting it in a way that people would not take one look at it and say we’re ‘yogurt knitters’.

It had to be a credible technical design. And although on the one hand we had people like BT saying amateurs can’t build a network, on the other hand, nobody could actually come up with anything that was fundamentally wrong with the design, so that was very important.”

The operator has put a nice little article up today that looks back on those early years, which is worth a read (here).

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
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
12 Responses
  1. Phil says:

    They have done a fantastic job (in my view) and shocked to read in the article that the incumbent (BT I am assuming) since they were even nice to to mention BT by name) tried to shut them down – when BT didn’t want to deliver such a service – but so glad they pushed on.

    Great example of community and some real believers getting behind an idea, Would love to see more of this in those hard to reach areas but I also know it takes a lot of effort – hence a well deserved achievement to have reached 10 years.

    1. Fastman says:

      hhhmm it actually says It had to be a credible technical design. And although on the one hand we had people like BT saying amateurs can’t build a network,

      so not quite as black and white actually but hey never let the facts get in the way of the nasty BT narrative

    2. GaryH says:

      Aww poor old BT, What’s the nasty BT narrative? That they don’t do anything unless their hand is forced to protect their own interests, That’s their Business model.

    3. anonymous says:

      Believe that’s business generally, Gary. Business that don’t behave like that are the exception rather than the rule.

  2. Barry Forde says:

    @Fastman – I forget what his name was but the then CEO of Openreach said live on BBC TV that community groups like B4RN were not capable of building or operating networks. I can understand the skepticism, they were struggling to do the same thing too, but such comments didn’t exactly help us and we had to do a lot of work to offset its effects. In the end the proof of the pudding…..

    1. anonymous says:

      Your deployment kept it very simple and didn’t need to massively scale. Not sure what that CEO thought was insurmountable.

      A benefit of point to point fibre. It certainly requires more fibre in the ground but can greatly simplify the topology.

      You guys of course didn’t need to use PON to avoid being made to wholesale dark fibre or scale to many handover points.

  3. Barry Forde says:

    @anonymous – Yes you are right, the idea was to keep it simple, in reality the design is really the same as a campus lan but spread over a much wider area. With fibre the distance didnt matter but keeping to readily available kit and proven technologies made it all cheaper to build. The use of blown fibre also made it possible to use locals to do the digging and only skilled splicers towards the end of the build. That keeps capital costs down.
    Its interesting to see all the new altnets springing up and announcing big build plans. We never expected to get big, but we did expect to achieve 100% coverage thanks to community support. I dont see any altnets wanting to overbuild B4RN but they all seem to want to fight over the same towns and cities. There is a lot to be said for sticking to a niche model like B4RN. It delivers what is needed by the rural folk and there is little if any duplication.

  4. Summer Is Here says:

    Where is Chris when you need a comment 🙂

    1. anonymous says:

      We’ve been fortunately enough that Barry has taken some time to post.

    2. Summer Is Here says:

      @anonymous

      Respect to Brian for doing that but Chris has always got far to much to say and not in a good way.

    3. John says:

      If you’re missing her comments I’ll help you out…

      Superfarce, go on the Alt-Nets, big bad BT, etc etc..

      Credit to B4RN. Well done!

    4. Summer Is Here says:

      @John

      You sure you’re not Chris 🙂

Comments are closed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Ultrafast ISPs
  • Gigaclear £17.00
    Speed: 200Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Community Fibre £17.99
    Speed: 150Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Virgin Media £24.00
    Speed: 108Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £25.00
    Speed: 100Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £25.00
    Speed: 158Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo code: BIGBANG
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £17.99
    Speed 33Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo code: BIGBANG
  • Shell Energy £20.99
    Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • NOW £22.00
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £22.00
    Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Plusnet £22.99
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £75 Reward Card
Large Availability | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (4212)
  2. BT (3182)
  3. Politics (2151)
  4. Building Digital UK (2042)
  5. Openreach (1998)
  6. FTTC (1931)
  7. Business (1868)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1630)
  9. Statistics (1525)
  10. 4G (1398)
  11. FTTH (1372)
  12. Virgin Media (1301)
  13. Ofcom Regulation (1252)
  14. Fibre Optic (1246)
  15. Wireless Internet (1245)
  16. Vodafone (940)
  17. 5G (924)
  18. EE (920)
  19. TalkTalk (832)
  20. Sky Broadband (795)
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact