First property goes live on B4RN network in Norfolk
The dig for B4RN East Anglia started in December and the first property is now all lit up and live on the network with around 7km of duct installed . Scole Community Centre is the first live property and that is largely down to the property housing the cabinet where all the individual fibres from the point to point links will terminate. B4RN is rare among the full fibre operators in the UK as they use a point to point architecture rather than GPON.
A lot of hard work has gone into this day from bringing together our volunteer network, to raising funds and digging around fields to lay the duct, but it is not rocket science – 15 volunteers and a few B4RN Engineers completed the civil works in about 10 working days spread over a couple of months. In return for that hard work we are now part of one of the most modern and fastest rural broadband networks in the world.
The B4RN pure fibre network brings the latest fibre technology directly into people’s homes using light to transmit the signal and not outdated electrical impulses over unreliable old cable networks. The key for rural broadband is not just 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 current ancient infrastructure. The answer is to bring a fast, reliable, fibre connection to each property (known as Fibre To The Home, or FTTH), this is what the B4RN community is doing.B4RN East Anglia Regional Director, David Evans
The work to bring the service to premises in Billingford, Upper Street, Thelveton and Shimpling will now get underway, but there will still need to be fund raising to pay for the material costs including converting previous pledges into investments. B4RN may have grown to some 24 full and part-time staff, but still relies on hundreds of volunteers and this mobilisation of communities is what has helped them grow to cover an area that is apparently larger than the area encompassed by the M25. The rural nature of the B4RN network is very apparent if you imagined just 4,200 B4RN subscribers spread out over the area enclosed by the M25.
Take-up rates where B4RN operates are impressive at around 60% but this does vary from area to area and from our mapping of their footprint we count 6,485 premises passed.
The quote from David Evans sums up the problems with full fibre deployment, i.e. it is not rocket science but can involve a lot of hard work, and once you go down the route of employing people for the dig or contracting out for the work the costs shoot up and community spirit also goes a long way to getting free wayleaves rather than the protracted negotiations we have seen that can hold up commercial deployments. Also as B4RN avoids built up areas the problems that seem to plague Virgin Media over pavement re-instatement if local press articles are correct not an issue.