B4RN Broadband For the Rural Northwest Case Study

B4RN Case Study - Fibre to the home (FTTH) for the Rural North West

B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North West) has taken a new approach to the ownership, financial and deployment models used traditionally, and still proposed by, telecommunications companies. These models invariably leave rural areas outside of the scope of economic viability for the telecoms companies, and have helped to create the Digital Divide between rural and urban Britain.

B4RN has shown that a world class, Gigabit, future-proofed, reliable, communications network to every property, without exception, can be profitable in deeply rural areas if approached in a non-traditional and less expensive manner. This is the driving force behind B4RN.

B4RN's aim is to build a community-owned gigabit Fibre To The Home (FTTH) network in the scarcely populated, deeply rural uplands of Lancashire in the north west of England utilising the skills, time, energy and ingenuity of the local residents and businesses.

This project is backed with a share issue for a not-for-profit company registered with the Financial Services Authority under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 using the community benefit option.

Expert Design for the Future

The detailed design and business plan shows that the first phase, including the core network, which will also serve Phases 2 and 3, will cost £1.86 million. This includes the costs associated with:

  • setting up the company as a telecommunications provider
  • buying the necessary equipment
  • training members of the community in fibre installation and fusion splicing (a high tech, in demand skill)
  • building the network
  • setting up the necessary administrative and support structures

B4RN is a community fibre network offering fibre to every home, providing 1000 megabit (1 gigabit) future proof connection for £30 a month. You do not have to buy shares to get a connection, but the more people who invest in this network the faster it will be built with the available funds. Special rates are available for businesses with more than 5 employees, or for caravan sites who wish to share WiFi connectivity with multiple users.

"There is no hope for many of us in this area to get superfast broadband so we are doing it ourselves. This is not a big company from ‘outside’ doing it, it is us, the rural people of Lancashire."

What's also great is that they've got the local Women's Institute splicing the fibre-optics together. Beats knitting!