The B4RN community has been busy lately connecting new customers along the ever growing core route. Some great good news stories have been coming out from many of the newly connected customers about how the B4RN connection has affected them. Some have shared their views on the Facebook page and others have sent a few words to our guest blog page wanting to share their experiences with the rest of the community.

Many words have been said about the benefits of a fast a reliable connection by the B4RN team and the media but the ones that come from customers who are experiencing first hand what the connection means to them are much more insightful.

Here’s the latest one from Andy Pearson resident of Arkholme, one of the best connected villages in the world. Thanks to Andy for taking the time to share his experience with other members of the community. Over to Andy.


The process, when it happened, was very quick and easy. Provide the power to the ‘box on the wall’ and watch as the green lights on the top illuminate. Bingo! One of the fastest domestic Internet connections available anywhere and on a different planet to anything the incumbent supplier can offer.

I remembered what Bill Clinton said when he got the presidency “I feel like the dog that chases the garbage truck and finally catches it. Now what do I do?”

I feel a bit like that dog too.

First thing to do was to connect all the gadgets we’ve got. One old MacBook laptop, one old windows PC, two iPads, two smartphones, an iPod touch and an Internet radio. All at once.

It worked. No more spinning beach balls, no more waiting for the hourglass to go away. They can all simultaneously place demands on the new system and it copes. Full of enthusiasm I did a speed test. I expected to get a really high number and was quite disappointed when I didn’t. I got ‘only’ 19MBs on my laptop using an Ethernet connection. Now, to keep that in context, I ran a check on the still functioning incumbent Internet supplier (you can guess who) and got the usual 0.46MBs result. So straight away B4RN is about 40 times better. Worried that my new service wasn’t as quick as it was cracked up to be I borrowed a teenager (hello Jasmine) who owns a new MacBook Air. Straight away she got a speed test result on the WiFi of over 90MBs. So the good news (I think) was that my gear was old and simply couldn’t take advantage of the new lightning fast speeds available. Best I start saving up for something more modern. Worth reiterating though that I’m still 40 times faster now, even with my ancient gear, and there’s no buffering to spoil videos any more.

Next thing to do was sort out the telephone line. Being charged sixteen odd quid ‘line rental’ every month for a rotten old copper wire has always struck me as spectacularly poor value for money. Now that the line was no longer needed for the Internet I thought why bother with it at all? Bit of a no brainer really. So we have moved over to Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP as it’s known and now use the Internet for phone calls. A Google search reveals loads of providers and the likelihood is that they all come out at about the same price for a domestic user. It’s likely too that either you’ll need new phones (Digital European Cordless Telecommunications, DECT phones) or, like us, a box that allows you to use your existing phones. Whichever company you choose will supply all that you need and once again it’s a very simple business to set it up and get going. They gave us a new phone number (05603 xxx xxx) and apart from that it’s just like it always was. Only cheaper, and not as crackly.

That’s it for now. A bit of new equipment, a bit of electronic ‘paperwork’, a new phone number and a much much faster Internet all costing less on a monthly basis. Happy days. For the future we’ll need to upgrade our computers and investigate how to get Internet onto our TV so that we can make use of BBC iPlayer (other channels are available) and film services such as Netflix or LoveFilm.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Internet is changing the way we do things and our patterns of life. Whatever the future brings in this regard, thanks to B4RN we in this area of rural north Lancashire will be able to keep up with the changes and be part of this digital revolution.


  1. HI Andy,

    It’s good to hear of your successes but I feel you’ve got one thing wrong. You won’t be “keeping up” – you are already way out in front and, unlike others still relying on slightly shorter ageing twisted pairs from the incumbent, you have a fully future-proofed network even when everybody is connected.
    As it’s all underground and not affected by water, you can say goodbye to weather-related problems as well.

  2. Thanks Andy thats really inspiring. I am not a great expert but yes I think it is the restrictions of the old laptop etc rather than the fibre connection. Also your wi-fi router may not deliver the speed because it wasnt envisaged to work with such high speeds. I believe that Gigabit routers are now being made and a new Wi-Fi speed standard being rolled out. It would have been interesting to connect Jasmine via the Ethernet cable rather than wi-fi and do a speed check. A macbook Air is one of the top laptops made. ( I have one ! ) They are pricey but you get what you pay for. Try using google street veiw with your fast connection. You should be able to “travel” through the still images as if you were in a film. Sean

    • hi Sean, I know the routers are only capable of around 100 or so via wifi, which is more than enough and meant they are affordable at the moment, I guess in a few years the gig ones will be very cheap.

      My macbook air doesn’t have ethernet, is there any way to connect it other than with the usb ethernet adaptor, and do these come in different qualities like ethernet cards in PCs do? also do you know if the ethernet cable you use has any bearing on the speed? If its only a short distance will ordinary cat 5 do or will it slow it down a bit? I saw a speed test on an imac 24 at arkholme the other day and she got 997 meg and I would love to be able to make my laptop do that just for demonstration purposes! She had cat5e cable, about a metre or two.

      • Hi Chris. Apple do a thunderbolt to ethernet adaptor That should do the trick if the Macbook Air has thunderbolt.

        • I use one of those to plug ethernet in, but mine was £5.99 off ebay. I bet its only 100 meg. I think I will have to invest in a gigabit one. Thanks for the tip…

      • Hi Chris From what I have read Cat5 should do Gigabit. Shorter lengths are better. And Cat6 is better. So I would go for a Cat6 cable. They are supposed to do 10Gbps

      • Looks like you need a very recent Macbook Air though 2011/2012

      • Yep still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up Chris –

  3. Hi Andy
    I can get 90 on my macbook air too, but I know I could get more if it had an ethernet port instead of usb ethernet adaptor. I can get the same on wifi as wired. Monica checked and the ethernet in her pc keeps her around the 100 mark, but its not worth upgrading the ethernet card in her pc until she’s got used to 100 times faster speeds and until the rest of the world can ‘upload’ to us faster than 100, even iplayer only seems to go upto 50meg. Very few testers are available to actually check your speeds we are finding, and Surrey Hills has it right, we’ve got to wait for everyone else to catch up now. 😉