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B4RN Expand 10Gbps Rural Home Broadband Network in North East

Tuesday, Jun 11th, 2024 (12:01 am) - Score 960

Community UK ISP B4RN (Broadband 4 the Rural North), which typically works with volunteers inside rural villages across England to help deploy their 10Gbp speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network, has officially begun the next phase of their expansion – taking them further into Northumberland and County Durham.

Just to recap. B4RN is a registered Community Benefit Society (i.e. they can’t be bought by a commercial operator and profits go back into the community) that has already expanded their full fibre network to cover 25,000 premises (plus over 13,000 customers) across various remote rural parts of Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Northumberland, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Yorkshire.

NOTE: Customers pay from £33 a month for 1Gbps (plus a £60 setup fee payable over 12-months) or £150 for 10Gbps (£360 setup). A 1Gbps £15 social tariff also exists.

The good news today is that B4RN are now embarking upon a further network expansion, which will take them from their heartlands (Lancashire and Cumbria) and push further into remote parts of both Northumberland and County Durham. The move comes after the Government’s (Building Digital UK) Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) approved funding for the next phase of this work.

The first phase of the project, which saw B4RN building their fibre optic broadband network across communities within the Allen Valleys – from Spartylea through to Whitfield and Catton, has already been completed. This “connected” a total of around 545 properties. But two more phases are due to follow, and they will ultimately reach several thousand additional premises.

B4RN’s North East England Expansion

Phase One (built) – Saw B4RN connecting the Allen Valleys, from Spartylea through to Whitfield and Catton.

Phase Two (in delivery) – Currently in delivery and covers the area of Barrasford, Kirkwelpington and Woodburn. Total of 1,300 properties (RFS).

Phase Three (in development) – Total of 4,200 properties (RFS).

– Kielder Forest
– Simonburn
– Tarset & Falstone
– Warden
– Wall & Sandhoe
– Humshaugh
– Hexhamshire
– Slaley & Healey
– Hexham West

County Durham
– Weardale East
– Weardale West


Lynne Rawles, B4RN’s Volunteer Champion For Barrasford, Kirkwelpington and Woodburn, said:

“Our story started with a need for better broadband in a poorly served remote area of Northumberland. I initially brought together fifteen volunteers from eight rural parishes with a dream to offer every property who wanted a 1,000 megabits fibre broadband connection to their door.

We researched and approached a number of suppliers before finding B4RN. Out of all the suppliers, B4RN was the only one to commit to supply every property in each parish no matter how distant and remote. No-one would be left behind.

At the end of 2023 B4RN started mole-ploughing their network and connecting properties. The aim is to finish the complete network by the end of 2024.

We are very proud of the work being done now. B4RN, together with our volunteers, are transforming our part of Northumberland into one of the best connected places to live in the UK. This is a huge legacy to leave for generations to come.”

Initial work on the pre-planning and engineering surveys will commence soon on Phase Three and B4RN will shortly begin engaging with the communities in all of these areas. In addition, it’s worth remembering that the operator is also still providing free connections and service to local primary schools, village halls, places of worship, as well as other community assets, such as community shops, in the places they cover.

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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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2 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jonathan says:

    A lot of properties in those areas already have Openreach FTTP. The actual villages though often have only FTTC as they have a cabinet which has been enabled and taking West Woodburn as a random example the cabinet is fairly central and the village not that big. Just drive up the A68 and you can see a ton of fibre has gone in over the last two to three years, which the thinkbroadband maps confirm.

    1. Avatar photo Peter Delaney says:

      The B4RN map defines the boundaries of their coverage. Anyone within those boundaries can have the service. Only wayleave issues can really prevent someone getting built to. There are no excess construction charges. This is why B4RN works in the deep rural.

      I’m pretty sure that Openreach cannot give such guarantees.

      My own community has had Openreach Fibre hanging off the poles, unused, since 2019.

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