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B4RN wins the race to Dolphinholme
Wednesday 07 May 2014 10:07:40 by Andrew Ferguson

The B4RN project is possibly the most high profile fibre to the premises project in the UK due in part to the high social media profile of several members of the organisation. It has also apparently being in a race to bring FTTP to Dolphinholme in Lancashire with the County Council and BT. B4RN is reported to have connected the village hall, with the first few homes also online. This adds to the other 450 or so live premises on the full fibre Gigabit capable network.

Hopefully we will see the first speed test from Dolphinholme appear on our maps, we should see speeds jump from the current 1.5 to 2 Mbps to speeds that should be sufficient for the next couple of decades.

The news of the roll-out was broken by Ian Grant, who covers some of the history about the roll-out and we have looked at the availability checkers and as yet no sign of the rumoured FTTP roll-out by BT. The crucial bit of information in this battle of the PR machines is that while B4RN lodged its coverage plan with the County Council it does not appear to have been done under the official Open Market Review.

The areas of the UK where BT is rolling out FTTP tend to be slower to build than the FTTC areas, and it is likely that Dolphinholme is similar, though there was nothing that absolutely confirmed the previous pictures of Openreach in the area were FTTP based.

Most of the success of B4RN is built on the work of a hardcore of volunteers and negotiating free access to private land to run the fibre over, rather than paying the usual commercial wayleave pricing. Even with this help, the amount of hardwork required to build a rural FTTP should not be overlooked, the first properties were connected in November 2012, so if the figure of 450 is correct the original aim of 1322 properties connected by the summer of 2012 is still a long way off in the distance.


Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Whether or not the OMR included B4RN's 'plans' for Dolphinholme is to some extent irrelevant. DEFRA and BDUK required a statement from the LA and BT that the postcodes relevant to the RCBF submission were 'NGA White'. It is surely correct to assume that since an RCBF allocation was made to B4RN, this was in fact issued.

Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Thus if BT are 'suddenly' now travelling on an enlightened 'Road to Dolphinholme', co-incidentally at the same time as B4RN and with an expensive FTTP roll-out which may be delaying other parts of the LCC project, I would suggest that B4RN have an excellent case for commercial damages against either LCC or their partners BT - or both.

The 'failure' to comply with the OMR as you suggest is reminiscent of the alledged behaviour of the Isle of Wight Council over Wight Fibre and HPI's 'failure to submit' to that OMR.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
B4RN received RCBF money ?
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
B$RN would not have been part of the OMR as is would not have been open access and therefore woudl have been seen as white and then determined whether it was incluced in the intervention are and then final build - there are phases in each build i would expect any FTTP to be in the later phased on any build as its a lot harder than FTTC (especially in a brownfield site)
Posted by cyberdoyle over 3 years ago
An allocation of RCBF was made to B4RN but they can't have anything until the county council releases their postcodes. So no funding. (don't worry Herdwick you would have heard if we got any) ;) and fastman, b4rn is open access in the true sense of the word, not the made up 'open access' where one BT group hold all the infrastructure and ISPs fight to resell the same. And BT said to the dolphinholme residents they would get the BT fibre last September. B4RN doesn't make false promises, the communities drive the project.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
No, Herdwick, my apologies - I believe they bid for it but did not get it, probably as fastman says due to 'access' - my mistake. As Ian G said though, the postcodes they were planning were all known to LCC (and of course, BT).

"After learning that Dolphinholme, which is less than five miles from the county seat in Lancaster, was unlikely to get high speed broadband from BT in the Lancashire County Council next generation roll-out,etc etc" and "they thought they had an agreement that LCC’s build out wouldn’t overbuild them".
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Still typing as cd posted!
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
So CD just to clarify - if I want to order the fibre broadband from Sky as part of my Satellite package can I do it if I am connected by your network?
Posted by ian72 over 3 years ago
@Gadget - look at the Technical FAQs on the B4RN website. They would be willing to sell via other ISPs but only at the full retail price to which ISPs would then have to add their own margins. They are not wholesaling the product but just willing to allow others to sell on the full ISP product that they offer. I believe it would have to be wholesale to qualify for funding.
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
Ian72,isn't that creeping towards a discussion about margin squeeze If you only sell at your retail price how can a "reasonably efficient" operator compete? agreed at the B4RN scale its heading towards a pedantic argument but the end user fact is that I doubt if we will see Sky or Talktalk fibre products sold over the B4RN network. (and they must have products since they are partnering Giga in York)
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
Looking at other BDUK projects areas like Dolphinholme with no cabinet nearby get left until the final phase with promise of a 2Mb USC service.

Here, miraculously, they are getting FTTP, with build starting in an early phase of the rollout.

Complete and utter bovine excreta.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago

'there are phases in each build i would expect any FTTP to be in the later phased on any build as its a lot harder than FTTC (especially in a brownfield site)'

Quite - which is why it's so dodgy that the first FTTC in SFLancs only went live in late September and a matter of weeks after that Openreach were in Dolphinholme starting their FTTP build.

Utterly shameless and an insult to every area whose taxpayers are waiting for a 2Mb service delivered by alternative technology. As usual wherever competition rears its head BT suddenly find a way.
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
Has anyone asked the Council (who it appears from the above item, knew about the B4RN deployment plans but still chose to regard the area as white)why the BT build was allowed to go ahead? Of course it could be that the exchange is needed as a "parent" and so needs to be done before "child" exchanges - but surely they could have stopped the BT deployment or challenged it if they thought is was a "spoiler"
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