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What is B4RN? Lancashire’s Rural FTTP Broadband project

What is B4RN? 

Latest news stories about B4RNBroadband For the Rural North (B4RN) is a non-profit community-lead organisation, dedicated to delivering 1Gbps ultrafast fibre-to-the-home broadband to every home and premises in eight parishes in rural Lancashire. 

The £1.86 million project is entirely funded by public subscriptions, and most of the digging for cable ducts is being performed by volunteers, with free broadband for those who pitch in the most.

It’s led by Professor Barry Forde, whose previous project connected more than 1,000 schools and public sites in Lancashire and Cumbria, and fibre broadband evangelist Chris Conder.

B4RN’s network will be connected to the internet via a dark fibre link to Manchester. So-called ‘dark’ fibre is fibre optic cable which has been put in the ground, but isn’t currently in use.

Where does B4RN cover? 

B4RN phase one route for rural FTTP broadband in LancashireThe phase one plan (right) is to create five village nodes, with the core node in Quernmore connected by 10Gbps links to Over Wyresdale, Wray with Botton, Melling with Wrayton, and Arkholme with Cawood, and a total of 40 routes radiating out from these nodes to cover every premises.

This will cover parts of Lancashire with some of the worst broadband in the county: 1,452 premises in Over Wyresdale, Quernmore, Roeburndale, Wray with Botton, Tatham, Wennington, Melling with Wrayton, Arkhome with Cawood, Littledale, and Hornby.

B4RN expects to complete phase one by the end of 2012, and to add up to 3,000 properties per year with new fundraising, to reach around 15,000 properties in 2019.

The map below shows the seven phases of the rollout (colour key below map), with each phase expected to take a year.

B4RN rollout plan for rural broadband FTTP in Lancashire

(Phase 1 in pale green, phase 2 in pink, phase 3 in blue, phase 4 in orange, phase 5 in purple, phase 6 in yellow, and phase 7 in light green)

What services does B4RN provide?

B4RN will provide both broadband and phone services to start, with further services in the future. Each home will have a battery backup so telephony over the fibre means landline connections are no longer required.

Some businesses are expected to require high-reliability leased lines at up to 10Gbps, while rural security services using CCTV are expected to find a high level of demand from farmers.

How much does B4RN cost?

A 1Gbps symmetrical connection costs £30/month, with a £150 connection fee.

Ownership of B4RN shares starts from £100, with 30 per cent tax refunds available to anyone investing between £500 and £20,000, but shares must be held for at least three years, and cannot be traded.

A £1500 investment ensures a Foundation Membership with additional bonuses, such as a free connection and one year’s free subscription to the gigabit service.

Individual supporters can sponsor the duct as it’s laid in the ground, starting from £5 per metre.

What technology does B4RN use?

The B4RN network uses a point-to-point fibre-to-the-home architecture, with every premises receiving a two-fibre cable which runs all the way back to their village node, enabling 1Gbps symmetrical connections with headroom to spare.

The network is being built with Gigabit-class equipment, since this is cheaper to buy than 100Mbps, with a standard range of 10km from each node covering every premises. The optics are upgradeable to enable 100Gbps when it is affordable, and the fibre ducting has a lifetime of at least 25 years.

Every premises has a battery backup designed to last at least an hour in the event of a power failure, to maintain both broadband and telephone connections. 

Previous news stories about B4RN

1Gbps fibre connections now live in Arkholme

B4RN Rural Broadband: 1Gbps fibre connections now live in ArkholmeB4RN has connected the first set of homes in Arkholme to its gigabit FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) network. 

Coinciding with the launch was a live public demonstration at the Arkholme village hall, where people could arrive to connect their devices to the new network and get a free taste of hyperfast broadband. Smart TVs services including YouView and home CCTV products were on display as well as  

Arkholme is the second village on B4RN’s roadmap to get connected, the first being Quenmore back in November 2012.

Since the launch of B4RN’s services which provide download speeds of up to 1Gbps, residents can now enjoy streaming BBC programmes in HD on the iPlayer where before such a thing would have been impossible without plenty of buffering and screen flicker.

B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) aims to get FTTP broadband rolled out to as many homes across rural Lancashire over the next seven years.

January 28, 2013

First 1Gbps rural fibre connections lit up

B4RN rural broadband digB4RN has lit up its first 14 customers in Lancashire’s Lune Valley, with a second village set to go live with 1Gbps fibre-to-the-premises broadband within weeks.

The FTTP community broadband project has connected the first users in the village of Quernmore, with nine more scheduled for imminent switch-on.

The next stop will be the village of Arkholme, where a 3.5km link into the B4RN fibre backbone is complete and the installation of customer equipment is underway.

Fibre to the village hall (FTTVH?) in Arkholme will be lit for an event to demonstrate the project’s success, and more residents and business will go live.

Broadband for the Rural North has also activated its 128km link from Telecity Manchester to the central hub at Quernmore, with direct links to major content providers such as the BBC and Google.

There’s further digging underway across the network, with sections completed in Roeburndale and Littledale, and a dig to Caton about to start.

Project organisers are also investigating cheaper routes across the River Lune via its railway bridge, and new ways to raise funds, inviting loans from supporters at competitive interest rates.

November 20, 2012

Arkholme ready to go live

B4RN’s community-powered rural fibre broadband network in Lancashire is poised to switch on its first customers after a summer of ‘extreme digging’.

Farmers and residents have been busy digging around the villages of Arkholme, Quernmore, Roeburndale and Littledale through rain and shine.

Ducting has been laid across hill and dale, fibre-optic cables blown through the ducts, and properties connected up.

B4RN’s Martyn Dews wrote: “Work is still going on and has continued further with active digs in Arkholme, Quernmore, Roeburndale and Littledale.

“Some properties in Arkholme have received the B4RN customer property equipment which has been connected up ready for ‘go live’.”

October 31, 2012

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