Broadband for the Rural North Ltd or ‘B4RN’ was launched in December 2011 by a local volunteer group led by industry expert Barry Forde. Registered as a community benefit society with the FSA (under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965) it can never be bought by a commercial operator and its profits can only be distributed to the community.
The company’s initial share offering raised hundreds of thousands of pounds from the local community and the first ground was broken in Quernmore in March 2012. Within months B4RN’s affordable, community focused model won it the ISPA’s ‘Internet Hero’ award. By 2015 we had 1000 properties connected and received royal recognition with a visit from HRH The Prince of Wales. We are regularly used as a leading exemplar, by national TV and press, of what is possible both in terms of gigabit fibre and an empowered rural community.
- B4RN has over 1500 connected customers
- B4RN has over 800km of core network in Lancashire, N Yorks and Cumbria
- B4RN is an equal opportunities employer with 10 staff and hundreds of volunteers
- uptake of B4RN averages about 65% of all properties in the communities we’ve completed
- local communities have trusted us with £1.5m of share investment and £1m in loans
*figures updated January 2016
Barry Forde’s background as an industry leading UK specialist in networking, particularly wide area fibre networks, means B4RN is professionally designed to world class standards; fast, resilient, expandable and futureproof. Chris Conder and Lindsey Annison as founding members of the team brought experience from other local community wireless mesh and fibre networks. Monica Lee brought management skills, and so B4RN was born. In 2015 both Barry and Chris were included on the Queen’s Honours list and awarded MBEs. We have been joined by several other dedicated team members with a diverse range of skills who comprise the B4RN team. Read more about their background on the Key People page.
We are incredibly proud that B4RN is driven and built by local volunteers with invaluable support from landowners and farmers. We are not public sector funded – instead we rely almost entirely on local investors in shares and loans, with a further business development loan from the Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation.
Broadband for the Rural North Ltd
FSA registration number 31352R (company registration documents)
Barry Forde (CEO)
Monica Lee (Company Secretary)
Tel: 01524 555 887