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Broadband Support Network launched at ABC Conference
Friday 30 January 2004 16:30:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael MP launched at the ABC conference this week a service known as the Community Broadband Network (CBN). The purpose of the network is to act as a central clearing house for the various community broadband networks.

Apparently the idea for CBN was initiated by E-Commerce minister, Stephen Timms. CBN comprises of a panel of experts and mentors of which 50 met on January 22nd. CBN Manager Malcolm Corbett is quoted as saying "Whether communities are aiming to meet challenging BT trigger levels, or planning their own alternative services, we are putting in place the know-how to help.".

Funding for the network comes from Government via the DTI, DEFRA and the Countryside Agency. Funding has also been secured from Co-operative Action, a fund created to support new co-operative and community ventures and from Cisco Systems.

The networks three key aims are:

  1. To provide the 'know-how' for local broadband initiatives
  2. Help schemes towards sustainability, e.g. billing and joint purchasing of backhaul
  3. To work with the community broadband sector to influence public policy in support of schemes.

As with almost all new ventures, only time can tell what the result will be, but we wish the CBN the best of luck in assisting the various community projects around the UK. While many detractors are pointing out the failures of a number of community projects, hopefully the CBN will help to provide feedback so other projects can avoid identical pitfalls.

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