Rural residents make their own fibre-optic broadband ISP
The Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) community broadband initiative is to formally launch as an internet service provider (ISP) on 15 December.
The project will bring affordable super-fast broadband at speeds of up to 1gbits/sec using fibre-optic cable connections. It will also provide telephone services to households and businesses in eight rural parishes in North Lancashire.
The initiative will also create jobs for local contractors and introduce new skills as local people lay the cables and connect buildings to the service, so the ISP and broadband infrastructure is self-sustaining.
Christine Conder, a farmer's wife and rural broadband pioneer, who successfully dug and installed the first rural fibre cable to her farm in Wray in 2009, summed up the community belief in the project.
"If we don't do it ourselves then it will never get done, so B4RN is the answer," she said.
A target of 662 registrations of interest, for a service of 1gbits/sec for £30 a month, was passed in just three months. Because each home will have telephone services over the fibre, with battery backup, the additional cost of landline connections was not needed.
Now the project has more than 700 registrants, shares will go on sale on December 15 to raise the capital required for the first phase when local people and contractors will begin laying the core network early in 2012.
B4RN chief executive Professor Barry Forde said: "Farmers and local people have the skill set we need for this project. They know the land and people, and have been offering to work for shares."
He said that, weather permitting, the core network would be completed within three months when B4RN will begin to connect the first users. The business and pricing plans can be seen on the project's website.
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