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Fibre broadband community start-up B4RN beats BT in the race to Dolphinholme

Farmer-powered rural broadband project B4RN has won the race with BT to install ultrafast fibre broadband in Lancashire village of Dolphinholme. 

Located just five miles from Lancaster, Dolphinholme became a strategic battleground for B4RN, which is digging its own pure fibre network capable of delivering 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) broadband.

Volunteers accelerated efforts to add the village to their footprint when the county council and BT unexpectedly announced a rival fibre project, despite an agreement to stay out of B4RN’s coverage area. 

Fibre broadband community start-up B4RN beats BT in the race to Dolphinholme
B4RN dug in and took a stand at Dolphinholme

A B4RN spokesperson told telecoms blogger br0kent3l3ph0n3: “I am delighted to tell you all that Dolphinholme now has hyperspeed broadband! Thanks to the ‘fusing team’ the Village Hall and the first few houses came online today. 

“A fantastic effort by everyone concerned, those who planned, those to dug and those who did the ‘technical stuff’. A real community effort by everyone involved. Particular thanks to those who have given us access over their land, those who have invested time and money and those who have supported this is so many ways.”

B4RN was launched in 2011 when rural Lancastrians realised they would be unlikely to see superfast broadband from the state-funded BDUK network, managed by Lancashire County Council and provided by BT.

Raising its own funding without government help, B4RN enlisted farmers and other local residents to dig its FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) network, providing 1Gbps broadband, plus phone and TV, to the most remote locations.

By contrast, the Lancashire BDUK scheme is based on an FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) network which can deliver up to 76Mbps within a kilometre of its cabinets, but promises only a minimum of 2Mbps in rural areas.

B4RN had informed the county council of its rollout plans, so in 2013 it was surprised to find that Dolphinholme had been targeted by the BDUK scheme for a faster FTTP network, although BT’s top FTTP download speed is currently capped at 330Mbps.

With B4RN established in Dolphinholme, the village will no longer be eligible for state funding for the BDUK project, although B4RN could apply for other government funds to help its work.

“Of course there is still a huge amount to do and at the Fleece meeting this evening the Dolphinholme B4RN Action Group dedicated ourselves to completing this project, which means bringing the service to all those in Dolphinholme who want it,” B4RN added.

“This will of course take time, but in the meantime having the Village Hall live means that there is a facility for anyone in the Village who needs to use it.”

Image: B4RN/Flickr

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