News

Broadband Independence Day for East Anglia as World-leading Fibre-To-The-Home broadband extends into the region.

 

New B4RN cabinet in packaging

MELLING, LANCASHIRE, UK & BRAMERTON, NORFOLK, UK (4th July 2017, 7.30pm) - Broadband for the Rural North Ltd (B4RN, pronounced Barn) and Broadband for Rural Norfolk Ltd (B4RNorfolk) announced on Tuesday that they have entered an agreement to extend B4RN’s core network into East Anglia, with B4RNorfolk becoming the first regional division of B4RN. 

 

"If you want something done, do it yourself," or so says the old adage. And that is exactly what residents in East Anglia have done when it comes to securing hyperfast broadband. Rather than waiting for BT to install the necessary infrastructure, since April 2016 many rural communities in East Anglia have been working together to create a truly next-generation independent community-owned network - planning to deliver world-leading 1,000 Mbps download and upload speeds from day one.  Today, the Social Enterprise they founded, B4RNorfolk, has become part of B4RN.

 

For many years, rural communities have been left behind those in urban areas and have suffered from appalling levels of phone and broadband service. Existing copper and aluminium cables (some over 70 years old) continually break down and rural communities are left struggling to run businesses, cope with everyday tasks such as online banking, booking medical appointments, completing Government forms, or taxing cars. The list goes on and when young students are not able to complete their studies online it becomes a real problem for future generations, too. Watching ‘catch up’ on a Smart TV or downloading music or videos is something many people in towns and cities take for granted but is a luxury rural residents cannot access and online shopping is hit and miss as the lines invariably go down part way through the process. Simple day-to-day activities that should take minutes, take hours and cause much frustration.

 

B4RN East Anglia’s Regional Director, Michael Davey, said: “B4RNorfolk was created entirely from the needs of the community, from people coming together and saying enough is enough, we’ve got to do something about rural broadband. B4RNorfolk was what the community set up to deliver it.  The key for rural broadband is not connecting fast fibre to the ageing copper and aluminium cables (known as Fibre-To-The-Cabinet, or FTTC) as this dramatically slows the speed and does nothing to prevent the constant breaks caused by the ancient infrastructure. The answer is to bring a fast, reliable fibre connection to each property (known as Fibre-To-The-Home, or FTTH), thus putting our rural communities at the cutting edge of digital communications technology.”  The 1000 Mb/s link that B4RNorfolk will provide is between 40 and 1120 times faster than most residents in Norfolk and Suffolk experience today and is easily upgradeable to 10x or 100x that speed in the future, making it truly future proof.

 

Not affected by water, corrosion nor atmospheric or electrical interference, fibre optics is literally communicating at the speed of light. The use of fibre optics for telecommunications celebrated its 50th birthday last year – in January 1966, the Father of Fibre Optic Communications, Charles Kao of East of England’s Standard Telephones & Cables Laboratories (later part of Nortel) first proposed passing light frequencies along a thin glass rod as a method of communicating over long distances. Today only 2% of the UK population have FTTH connections, whereas other world leading countries in Europe and the rest of the world currently have up to 93.7% FTTH connections.

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B4RNorfolk Ltd was created after the success of the original B4RN project in Lancashire, which brought FTTH broadband to homes in the north of England by galvanising local communities to carry out the work themselves.

 

“We were aware of the amazing success of B4RN in Lancashire, where ordinary people of all ages got together in their communities and provided the finance and labour to build their own fibre network. B4RN have been so successful they are now on target to have over 5,000 households connected by the end of this financial year and have created 28 full-time and 4 part-time jobs in their local area”, said Mr Davey.

 

“B4RNorfolk set out to replicate B4RN’s success in East Anglia and B4RN have been incredibly supportive right from the beginning - even providing us with a copy of their business plan, costings and allowing us to use their copy on our website. They have created a world-leading fibre network and have shared their experience and expertise to enable others to copy their successful model - a true community project.”

 

B4RNorfolk has now joined forces with B4RN which will see B4RN extend its core network into East Anglia and B4RNorfolk ceasing to be its own entity, becoming B4RN East Anglia – a regional division of B4RN.

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B4RN is a not for profit Community Benefit Society owned by all the residents who invest or volunteer their time. This means that B4RN only extends its network into communities where they’re wanted, as each community that invites B4RN in needs to raise the investment to cover the work and materials required for their area’s installation. In addition, the community needs to provide the volunteer labour to carry out most of the work to dig trenches, lay cables across fields and under roads and connect to B4RN’s core network.

 

B4RN’s CEO, Professor Barry Forde MBE, explained, “The communities in East Anglia are raising the money and doing the work and B4RN is fully committed to providing the technical and operational support and assistance to make it happen. As part of this, B4RN is extending its core network from Telehouse North in London's Docklands (where B4RN has an existing node) some 218Km through East Anglia, along the A143 to Lowestoft, so that the parishes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex can be connected. We are firmly convinced of the technical and operational abilities of Michael’s team, their resources and that they have significant support from local communities.”

 

Mr Davey added: “The whole ethos behind B4RN is that each area takes responsibility for its own network build and funding, B4RN then provides the ‘glue’ to pull them all together and maintain the network once built. Then residents who have signed up for the broadband pay £30 a month including line rental for 1,000Mbps broadband. Today's announcement is fantastic news for communities in East Anglia both in terms of project timescales and investor risk.”

“This news should provide our communities with a huge amount of confidence in our team’s ability to deliver and support community broadband in the region and it greatly accelerates the project timescales, allowing us to get the first properties connected much sooner. B4RN’s technical and financial expertise and six-year track record of delivering full FTTH in Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire Dales should likewise provide the reassurance that our investors need to purchase B4RN shares to fund the build-out in the region.”

 

B4RN expects the first East Anglian families to be enjoying its 1,000Mbps full fibre broadband service by the end of the year.

 

Ends 

 

For B4RN media enquiries, please contact: 

Barry Forde 

CEO

B4RN Melling office: 01524 555 887

For B4RN East Anglia media enquiries, please contact: 

Michael Davey, Regional Director

- Or -

David Evans, Director 

B4RN East Anglia office: 01508 500 366

 

http://b4rnorfolk.org.uk/

 

About B4RN: 

Broadband for the Rural North Ltd or ‘B4RN’ was launched in December 2011 by a local volunteer group led by industry expert Barry Forde. Registered as a Community Benefit Society with the FSA (under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965) it can never be bought by a commercial operator and its profits can only be distributed to the community. 


 

Editors notes - B4RN 

-          B4RN’s existing network covers an area of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire Dales that is bigger than the area inside the M25 

-          B4RN provides the same 1000 Mb/s service to 100% of the properties in the areas it operates - no ifs, no buts, no-one's too far away or too expensive – that’s the difference between a community project and a commercial one.  Because it’s a community project, no-one will be left out 

-          B4RN have over 3270 subscribers and currently aim to connect 150 properties per month (they hit 162 in June and thus beat the target)

 

Editors notes - B4RN East Anglia

-          Broadband for Rural Norfolk’s approach deliberately closely follows the successful model originally developed by B4RN in Lancashire 

-          Under the agreement, Broadband for Rural Norfolk, or B4RNorfolk for short, will cease to be a separate entity.  It will change its name to B4RN East Anglia and become the first regional division of B4RN 

-          B4RN East Anglia expects to have the first properties connected by the end of 2017 

-          B4RNorfolk’s CEO, Michael Davey will stay on with B4RN East Anglia, taking on the role of volunteer Regional Director, an unpaid part-time position 

-          All the East Anglia team are unpaid volunteers   

 

Editors notes - Social Enterprises 

-          Social Enterprises marry the social agenda of a Charity with the business acumen of a Corporation 

-          The Social Value Act, which came into force in January 2013, requires public bodies, including councils, to consider choosing providers based on the social value created in an area and not on cost alone 

-          According to Government data, approximately 70,000 social enterprises in the UK employ almost a million people and contribute £18.5 billion to the UK economy (based on the 2012 Small Business Survey, 2013) 

-          Some of the best-known Social Enterprises include the Co-Op, Divine chocolates, Cafédirect, the Eden Project and Jamie Oliver's restaurant, Fifteen. They cover almost every product and service sector from Banking and Retail to Energy and Telecoms. 

  

Editors notes - Technical 

-          Broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second, abbreviated as Mbps or Mb/s; or alternatively in Gigabits per second, abbreviated as Gbps or Gb/s 

-          1000 Mb/s is the same as 1 Gb/s 

-          B4RN’s hyperfast network, with 1000Mb/s connectivity, is typically 40 to 1,120 times faster than the basic broadband or superfast broadband found in rural areas 

-          ‘Hyperfast’ is a technical term that means typical throughput is greater than 500 Mb/s 

-          Superfast describes download speeds of up to 24 Mb/s in the UK 

-          While most providers focus on download speeds, other factors such as latency, jitter and upload speeds are just as important for modern Internet communications including video calling, voice calling and watching TV over the broadband connection. B4RN gives you the same upload speed as its download speed.