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B4RN connects 800 properities to its Gigabit service
Thursday 12 February 2015 10:44:35 by Andrew Ferguson

B4RN is celebrating the connection of 800 premises to its point to point FTTH network which offers symmetric Gigabit speeds. This is a doubling of the number of connected premises in the 15 months since 350 was declared in November 2013. Though if this was a BT led project there would be committee meetings with the BT CEO in stocks as the original phase 1 target was for 1,451 premises in 2012.

The project almost revels in the publicity that the talk of over build by the LCC/BT project creates and to that end if B4RN were to furnish us with a list of the postcodes they currently serve we could add it to our maps and also track to what extent the overlap with the gap funded BT/LCC project is.

Geographic spread of B4RN speed test results
Click image for full size version.

Our speed test results show the extent of their network and the amount of work it will have taken to reach such diverse areas and while the project is delivering the fastest speeds in Lancashire the 800 locations are generally swamped by the over 700,000 premises in the rest of Lancashire with their ADSL, ADSL2+, cable and FTTC based services.

Speeds test results January 2015 in Lancashire
Area Mean Download Upper Quartile Download Mean Upload Upper Quartile Upload
Blackburn with Darwen 21.3 Mbps 29.8 Mbps 3.5 Mbps 3.7 Mbps
Blackpool 26.6 Mbps 37 Mbps 3.8 Mbps 6 Mbps
Lancashire County 11.2 Mbps 19.9 Mbps 4 Mbps 5.3 Mbps
Lancaster District 21.8 Mbps 27.4 Mbps 5.9 Mbps 6.4 Mbps
Preston 20.8 Mbps 32.7 Mbps 3.1 Mbps 4 Mbps
West Lancashire District 15 Mbps 21.9 Mbps 3.6 Mbps 4.4 Mbps


Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
It's probably a bit unfair to compare the relative ability of a commercial organisation and a community one to keep to aspirational timescales. So well done B4RN.

However, it's fair enough to consider what this would mean as a general approach to wider broadband roll-out. It's a difficult approach to scale across the country.
Posted by jumpmum over 2 years ago
Maybe CD will finally admit that it is harder than you think to do FTTP rollout and takes longer than you want even with community help.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
Well done Walter and Team keep ducting and get the fibre connected ASAP.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 2 years ago
Those B4RN speed tests are spread over quite a large area. The Gigaclear project where I live has progressed at a comparable rate. The work is done by two contractors. One digs the holes and lays the cables. The other joins them all up.
Posted by themanstan over 2 years ago
Job well done under challenging conditions without the benefits of being a commercial operator.
With majority of work being voluntary, there are no opportunities for outsourcing difficult work to contractors, they just need to keep slogging away. Otherwise the working capital would dry up in no time.
But it does into perspective the amount of labour required for FTTP delivery.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 2 years ago
Doesn't matter how long it takes, Jumpmum, the build out goes at the speed of the community. At least it is getting done, unlike the many areas openreach can't do. I wonder if they could have done it any faster than us? I very much doubt it. They have spent the last two years trying to get fibre between two of our villages. We did a longer stretch in a week. BT still haven't got theirs through. Its overbuild with public money, but we welcome competition.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 2 years ago
TheEulerID, thanks for that, but it actually would be eminently scalable especially with support from government instead of hindrance. If we can do it, then so can any other area. We have always maintained that. It isn't rocket science. It is really simple stuff. Good planning is essential, but the actual building of it is easier than you would think. It just takes a lot of grit and perseverance. Lancashire is famous for that. B4RN has been built by pensioners. The majority of volunteers are retired. They have regained their six packs and are super fit.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 2 years ago
themanstan, the work is more labour intensive due to not having funding. If the altnets had got the funding instead of BT the work would be a lot easier. We could afford the machines and staff that they have! As it is, we have to innovate. Where there is a will there is a way, and not a penny is wasted. What really bugs us is that the council are now overbuilding with PUBLIC MONEY in five of our villages. They ignore bigger villages out of our patch though. The council is going to look very foolish. No due diligence.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
"Doesn't matter how long it takes" - Probably does if you were expecting it in 2012 and still don't have a connection and might not have for years to come?
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
@GMAN99 There are still a couple of million premises that in 2009 were expecting to have a minimum 2mb connection by 2012 and are still waiting and might not have it for years to come. Waiting for a Gigabit connection seems very worthwhile by comparison.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
Why were they waiting? Is there a 2Mbps broadband USO I'm not aware of?
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
Ignoring semantics, yes there is.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
But... there isn't
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
Please stop trying to pick fights and grow up
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
I'm not trying to pick anything, there is no such thing. The USO is for voice and all they have to do in terms of internet connectivity is provide the means to connect at 28k

So where is your 2Mbps USO?
Posted by herdwick over 2 years ago
So "up to 1 Gigabit network" would be the correct ASA compliant description ;-)

The BDUK project "overbuilding" arises from B4RN not entering data into the Open Market Review, for whatever reason. Hoping for funding at a guess.
Posted by mdar5 over 2 years ago
Part of the problem is that community projects are getting the wayleaves for free.

As soon as a commercial company comes along wanting a wayleaves all those same land owners are suddenly all clamouring for money for granting it.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 2 years ago
darling herdwick, customers can already have 10 gigabit now if they want it, so upto 10gigabit would satisfy ASA? not that they know owt. mdfar5, community projects get wayleaves because the community granting them own the network and they know they won't get fibre any other way. If a commercial company wants to make money out of land access it is only right they pay for them. Community companies put the money they make back into the network or the community. Not into fatcats pockets and shareholders.
Posted by RandomJointer over 2 years ago
I reckon B4RN staffers are making more posts on here, ispreview etc, per year than they are connecting customers per year.
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
lol, yes if even cyberdoyle spent less time slagging off BT and more time on the rollout they'd have finished by now ;)

Never really get why she runs BT down so much, its unprofessional as a provider in the same space (doesn't look good for B4RN) and pointless, they don't need to tarnish the rep to succeed they are already succeeding? Strange...
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Of course, the promise by the Labour government of 2Mbps in 2009 was shot down by the coalition in 2010 as an unfunded promise. Not a unique position for Labour.

Even then, it didn't promise 2Mbps with fixed-line broadband; it included FTTC as well as wireless, mobile and satellite infill. Nor did it promise affordability.

Then it was around 10% that couldn't get 2Mbps; now the figure is around 3% (specifically from fixed-line), and less once you throw in the mobile & satellite options. Not "still a couple of mill"
Posted by kijoma over 2 years ago
seems an unfairly negative slant on the article.

"the original phase 1 target was for 1,451 premises in 2012."

The government of the time had 2012 as a target for their delivery... so... ?
Posted by fibredale over 2 years ago
@GMAN99 BT-baiting? - we're just pointing out the Emperor's got no clothes. Even pensioners gotta have a hobby.
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
@wwwombat I did an FOI request to Ofcom on the number of sub 2mb lines. The response showed it was based on the same sort of nonsensical assumptions that they use for "universal" ADSL availability (in that case that everyone connected to an enabled exchange could get it) and no validation or reasonableness checks.

Using the same procedure and more realistic assumptions I would make the figure top side of 7% and probably nearer 10% - which is in line with Thinkbroadbands figures
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
"same sort of assumptions"
So what assumptions specifically?

"Using the same procedure"
What procedure?

"realistic assumptions"
What are they?

"in line with Thinkbroadbands figures"
But there, you are comparing against actual speeds, rather than available speeds.

We've already had the argument about the statistic that half of those people on actual sub-2Mbps speeds already have the option of switching to greater speeds via NGA, but choose not to.

That suggests your "realistic assumptions" over-cook the figures in the opposite direction.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
And all that *still* ignores the fact that fixed-line is not the only source.

In any case, the most recent estimate for sub-2Mbps fixed-line coverage (ie availability, not actual) comes from BT rather than Ofcom, in evidence to DEFRA:

"At the moment, we have got probably 97% of premises over 2 Mbps, and by 2016 we think that will be about 98.5% of premises."
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
The fun part is judging the complaint volume from 810,000 households with under 2 Mbps access and those that connect at better than 2 Mbps but due to ISP choice get poor speeds.

The data use growth is impacting on IPStream Max only exchanges based on user comments, but is very ISP variable.
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
@wwwombat. Ofcom This is part of the reply to my FOI " local authority level data indicated that 1.2million lines were currently receiving speeds less than 2Mbit/s. This total includes approximately 620,000 lines which are covered by superfast broadband, and therefore a faster service is available those users if they chose to upgrade. Hence our estimate that 3% of premises currently have sync speeds below 2Mbit/s and are unable to upgrade to a faster service is based on the remaining 600,000 lines that reported speeds below 2Mbit/s. "

You will remember from our previous discussion
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
that the local authority data only included 21m premises so they have forgotten the other 7m or are assuming they all can get 2mbs.

Additionally in relation to their claim of 620,000 lines covered by superfast broadband and able to upgrade although the full data is difficult to manipulate there are many thousands of postcode (at least 5-6,000) where Ofcom claim 100% superfast coverage but not a single premise is receiving more than. 2mbs. Whilst I can imagine that people may not want to pay a superfast premium to go from 1.5b to 2.5mb
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
it beggars belief that no one in these areas is prepared to pay to swap their service for one getting superfast speeds.
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
My conservative assumptions
Ofcom data show 6% sub 2mb out of 20.9m. The other7 million include everyone with a non fixed service. Assume this use is mainly because they cannot get above 2mb. So at a guess double 6% to 12% = 840,000. Add 200,000 for notspts ignored by Ofcom Deduct 620,000 per Ofcom but add back all postcodes where no one is getting a 2mb service and the sub 2mb proportion of the 10,000 plus postcodes where maximum speed is less than 24mb - say 300,000 premises.

Result 1,920,000 out of 27.9m or 6.9%
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Ta @gerarda
I'll look over those later
Posted by gerarda over 2 years ago
wwwombat.where i said "so they have forgotten the other 7m or are assuming they all can get 2mbs." was incorrect. They have assumed the other 7m have the same characteristics as the 20m they surveyed. As described in the first line of my assumptions this is nonsense.
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