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B4RN Shortlisted in Techworld 2014 Awards

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in B4RN News | 0 comments

B4RN has been shortlisted for several industry awards since its inception and it has won a few of those too.

The shortlists for the forthcoming Techworld awards to be held at the ME hotel in London on 20th November 2014 have been announced and B4RN is up for an award in the Enterprise Project of the Year” category. The full shorlist for the category is as follows:-

FirstGroup plc
Hull Trains Wi-Fi Single Sign Up project

B4RN
Broadband for the Rural North project

UK Power Networks
Self service tools project

Hargreaves Lansdown
HL Live for iPad with Mubaloo

CSC and Zurich Insurance Group
IT Infrastructure Transformation Programme

As you can see, B4RN is up against some industry big players so it will be interesting to see how we fare with our unique project. Even to be shortlisted is a great boost for the community that have put in so much hard work to make the project a success, so to win this would be superb. Fingers crossed!

Techworld Awards 2014 Shortlisted

Techworld Awards 2014 Shortlisted

B4RN now hiring!

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in B4RN News | 0 comments

Thanks to the amazing work of the communities and volunteers,  your network has grown large enough to support paid staff.

We are pleased to invite applications for an interview for the following post: Job Advertisement: Office Manager, B4RN.

Office Manager

B4RN in Lancaster (www.b4rn.org.uk)

Salary: £20,000 to £23,000 depending upon experience

Deadline for applications 15/11/14 has been extended to the 26th of November, due to the constraints of newspaper advertising.

Start Date, as soon as available.

We are a community organisation of volunteers, very successfully building a fibre-optic broadband service for the rural North West.

We require a highly motivated and enthusiastic individual to manage our office and help us grow into a well-run telecoms company..

The successful candidate will need to have excellent communication skills, be able to work to tight deadlines and have proven experience working with accounts and credit control.

You will need to be able to work with and encourage volunteers, and manage general office duties, such as maintaining the smooth running of the office, managing customers, providers and office facilities. Experience and competence using MS Office and Sage is also preferable. Most importantly, you need to be willing and able to accept and build upon the sort of challenges that come with creating a new and fast moving organisation.

To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to: B4RN, The Auction Mart, Wyresdale Road, Lancaster LA1 3JQ

or email to office@b4rn.org.uk

Please contact Monica Lee on m.lee@b4rn.org if you have any questions.’

B4RN is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sectors of the community.

B4RN & Emtelle Show-Tell Day #6

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in B4RN News, Lessons Learnt | 2 comments

B4RN & Emtelle Show-Tell Day #6

Emtelle show tell day 6

Update…

The 6th showtell day went exceedingly well, with favourable weather meaning we could visit a lot of sites. The photos are here on the facebook page, and you don’t have to join facebook to see them. We were joined by a visitor from the EU commission who was reporting back about what rural communities are capable of, and whether the project can be replicated across Europe.

The next showtell date will be announced soon, register your interest if you want to be included.

It’s time for another get together. A meeting of like minded folks and an opportunity to share the knowledge of rural broadband deployment.

The date of the sixth Show-Tell day is set for the 8th October 2014. These events have been extremely popular and have allowed valuable information to be shared along with field visits to see various aspects of the B4RN community fibre broadband deployment.

The event, as before, will be jointly hosted by B4RN and Emtelle in Lancaster and the surrounding B4RN area. The day will focus on sharing experiences and demonstrating installation techniques for rural fibre to the home/broadband initiatives.

Topics to be covered include:-

  • Customer Engagement
  • Product Selection
  • Network Planning
  • Content
  • Active Equipment
  • Hands on demonstrations
  • Field trip

We hope you will be able to join us for a fully interactive day! It is advised that due to the locations visited on the field trip that delegates bring suitable clothing such as a raincoat and walking boots or wellies!

Best regards

Barry Forde CEO, B4RN and Steven King, Chief Commercial Officer, Emtelle

Please register for attendance by emailing info@emtelle.com. You we be sent further details regarding the full agenda and location.

Please use the same address for any other inquiries in connection with the event.

The Twitter hash tag for the event is #FTTHshowTell

For anyone who has not attended one of these events, an excellent write up was provided by Vicki Turk, UK Editor of Motherboard and can be seen here. There are also several photos from the event on the B4RN Facebook page.

 

Dolphinholme – Snorkels, Triffids and Fibre

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in B4RN News | Comments Off

Many followers of the rural broadband debate will have heard of the small Lancashire village of Dolphinholme. Situated just outside Lancaster and on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, this village of around 200 people, whilst having great views, has suffered with very poor broadband speeds.

One thing the village does have though, is a very active community. Having being made aware of the B4RN project deploying nearby, the villagers decided to get involved and subsequently raised the interest, investment, muscle and cake to ensure that Dolphinholme would be brought into the Hyperfast lane. Much hard work has and still is being put in by all the villagers and some very interesting stories regarding how the duct was deployed have been heard. For example, snorkels have been used at some point! Several residents were called in to tackle a very large Triffid sized plant that was blocking the duct route. All these obstacles and more have been overcome and now the village has a live connection, several properties are now enjoying one of the fastest connections in the world with more being added daily.

Some people will remember the debate that raged in the press regarding the appearance of BT in the village, shortly after the villagers started digging. Word has gone quiet on this front but it’s safe to say that B4RN is now well and truly embraced by the village.

Dolphinholme Plinth and B4RNstormers

Dolphinholme Plinth and B4RNstormers

Media attention was raised again this week as BBC Radio Lancashire visited to find out more at a demonstration evening arranged by the villagers. The aim was to allow residents to come along, ask questions and generally find out more about what was involved. Most of all, as the Village Hall is now live, the people that have yet to be connected could bring their own gadgets, connect up and experience the service first hand. To show what other capabilities the connection could bring, local computer firm Black Bear Computers were there with various connectable widgets.

Unfortunately not all went to plan as shortly before the session was about to start, the connection went dead. As the village is still deploying, the resilient link is not yet live. The fault was soon found. A utility company working in nearby Abbeystead had accidentally cut through the cable which feeds the village. The B4RN team was called in and much to the delight of all affected, the fault was fixed in around four hours. The fix would have been quicker but the B4RN team had to wait for the site to be made safe first. So although this put an end to the live demo, it gave great reassurance to the villagers that should there be similar issues then a quick resolution would be found. A positive end to what started somewhat more negatively.

If you missed the radio interview, then you can listen again here.

  BBC Radio Lancashire Dolphinholme Report

In addition, the story was also covered on the BBC website,  the Telegraph wesbite and Cable.co.uk

Well done to all involved at Dolphinhome. They are leading the way for other similar communities showing that if people pull together, anything is possible. True B4RN-stormers! It will be interesting to see how the village make use of the service as it propagates.

 

B4RN & Emtelle Show-Tell Day #5

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in B4RN News | Comments Off

Update:

Been and gone, great day, enjoyed by all and lots of knowledge shared. The next showtell day will probably be in October, please email us at info@b4rn.org.uk or SimonW@emtelle.com if you want to attend it. Lots of photos on our facebook page if you want to see what happens.

It’s time for another get together. A meeting of like minded folks and an opportunity to share the knowledge of rural broadband deployment.

The date for the fifth Show-Tell day is set for the 10th July 2014. These events have been extremely popular and have allowed valuable information to be shared along with field visits to see various aspects of the B4RN community fibre broadband deployment.

B4RN Show-Tell #4

B4RN Emtelle Show-Tell #5

The event, as before will be jointly hosted by B4RN and Emtelle in Lancaster and the surrounding B4RN area. The day will focus on sharing experiences and demonstrating installation techniques for rural fibre to the home/broadband initiatives.
Topics to be covered include:-

  • Customer Engagement
  • Product Selection
  • Network Planning
  • Content
  • Active Equipment
  • Hands on demonstrations
  • Field trip

We hope you will be able to join us for a fully interactive day! It is advised that due to the locations visited on the field trip that delegates bring suitable clothing such as a raincoat and walking boots or wellies!

Best regards

Barry Forde CEO, B4RN and Steven King Chief Commercial Officer, Emtelle

Please register for attendance by emailing info@emtelle.com. You we be sent further details regarding the full agenda and location.

Please use the same address for any other enquiries in connection with the event.

The Twitter hash tag for the event is #FTTHshowTell

For anyone who has not attended one of these events, an excellent write up was provided by Vicki Turk, UK Editor of Motherboard and can be seen here. There are also several photos from the event on the B4RN Facebook page.

Here is a recent video that shows what activity is taking place in B4RNland.

Rural Broadband – The Difference it’s Made to Me

Posted by on Mar 15, 2014 in B4RN News, B4RNstorming B4RNicles | 2 comments

Step back 6 years. I was a busy lawyer living in a small town in the North West of England, addicted to my expensive Virgin Media broadband connection. I used it for email, internet, keeping in touch with friends around the country/world and all sorts of television-related goodies. I’d become dependent upon it, and couldn’t imagine enjoying life without a fast broadband connection. At the same time, I loved walking and camping with pals in Cumbria, Yorkshire/North Lancashire and Scotland. I’d get out as often as possible with my tent and my dog and spend a weekend away, and then I’d drive home and fire up the computer to catch up with pals, the world and the TV I’d missed over the weekend. Everything seemed sorted.

My perspective changed fast, though, when my mother died very suddenly. I realised I wasn’t entirely happy in my work, and I began to fantasize about chucking in my high-pressure job and moving to live in the sort of place I’d spent 20 years driving to at weekends. I was no longer tied to my small town, but could the move be done? My problem didn’t lie in the reduction of income, but in the virtual impossibility of finding the sort of internet access I’d become accustomed to in the kind of place I wanted to live. It’s said that broadband has become one of the essential utilities, and I certainly agree. I don’t mind having to drive 5 miles to the nearest petrol station or cash machine, or even 15 miles to the nearest town, but I can no longer live from daytoday without a decent internet connection.

I spent many, many hours on the internet after work, searching for places I’d like to move to that had houses I could afford. One day I saw an advert for a tiny cottage in Wray, and booked a viewing. I researched Wray, and found that it was part of a broadband experiment involving Lancaster University. It sounded as though this might be the kind of place I was looking for, and when I saw that Wray was planning to stream a cricket match (#twicket) across the internet I knew this was the place for me! My decision was made.

Fast forwarding, I moved to Wray mid 2011. Not long after I arrived I heard about B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) and became very excited. The proposal was for the local community to cooperatively dig a fibre connection across the moors and into the village that would enable us to have one of the fastest broadband connections in the world. Wow! I was instantly hooked, and extremely excited! I’ve had a commercial broadband connection since I moved here, but I’ve had to pay an enhanced rate because I’m living in a rural community. Also, there was no possibility, preB4RN, of being able to upgrade that connection to fibre, as the commercial operations were not willing to invest the money required to do the job.

I immediately expressed an interest in B4RN and joined in the community effort to spread the word and encourage local residents and landowners to sign up. I’ve known that it was coming for a couple of years now, but four days ago superfast broadband finally became a reality for me when I got home from work to find that local volunteers had blown in my connection. Dog fed, I went to the new router to check my new password, and less than a minute later I was connected, on my iPad, to one of the fastest internet connections in the world! Amazing!

screen shot of my speed test this morning

A speed test from my laptop

Having finally arrived at the weekend, I’ve been able to spend all morning updating things around the house. B4RN is now feeding not only my iPad and Macbook but also (and wirelessly) my PC desktop upstairs. Not only that but it’s also driving my smart TV! No more frustrating pixelated interludes while my commercial broadband struggles to catch up with iPlayer and Lovefilm.

My next step will be to organise a B4RN telephone service (and I’ll be able to keep my existing number). That means I’ll be able to have a phone that uses B4RN fibre for a fraction of what I currently pay in monthly landline rental charges, and I’ll be able to run my mobile off it too while I’m at home. When my number has been ported over I’ll cancel my existing commercial broadband and telephone connections. I’ll be paying approximately the same price (maybe a little less), but for a vastly improved service.

B4RN has made all the difference in the world to me. If it hadn’t been available then I wouldn’t have been able to move to the countryside. I need a fast broadband connection to live my life in the way I’ve become accustomed to living it over the course of the last 20 years. When I was a teenager the ultimate in technological sophistication was a digital watch, but the world has moved on and few people can manage without email and a decent connection to the internet. Certainly I can’t.

What sort of a daily difference will it make to me? Well, for a start I’ll be able to communicate with the local Parish Councillors in email, in my role as Parish Clerk. Not all Councillors had internet connections before, but they will when the village dig is complete. I also hope to be able to keep local residents in touch with what’s going on via an email circulation list. I’ll be able to read and respond to my work-related emails at home (um… not sure whether that’s a good thing or not!) Mainly, though, I’ll be able to surf the internet super-quickly and stream TV and films via my television. I’ll have a super-fast connection to all of the internet sites that I’ve become used to using since I first bought a laptop 20 years ago and became dependent upon broadband.

I’d like to say a huge “Thank you!” to all of the local volunteers who have made this possible for me. I’ll pay for the connection, but volunteer villagers have come to my house and drilled holes to bring the fibre through, routed the wires through my house and also installed the router for me. They’ve been available at the end of a phone to advise me on how to get things going. Does that happen with commercial providers? *insert hollow laughter here* I don’t think so ?

Thank you, B4RN. You’ve made it possible for me to change my life and enjoy the benefits of the city and town without having to live there.

Land Rover, The Princes Trust & B4RN

Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in B4RN News | 1 comment

Some people may remember that B4RN was awarded the use of a Land Rover Freelander 2 towards the end of last year thanks to the Land Rover Countryside Bursary in partnership with The Princes Countryside Fund.

The new freelander, on loan to B4RN for 12 Months from the Princes Countryside Trust fund and Landrover

The new freelander, on loan to B4RN for 12 Months from the Princes Countryside Trust fund and Landrover

Those who are familiar with the type of terrain that the B4RN area covers will know that the availability of a reliable 4×4 vehicle is a necessity. So it goes without saying that since the first day of delivery, the Land Rover has been out in the fields come rain, shine, snow, hail and whatever else Mother Nature has thrown our way. It has enabled the team to get deep into the fields where the fibre optic cable is routed and as can be seen from the super film produced by the people at Land Rover, the vehicle also doubles as a fibre work tent.

The film (produced by Land Rover and The Prince’s Countryside Fund), shows not only how useful the Land Rover is to projects and communities like B4RN but also what the project itself brings to a community. Not only the world class broadband but also the bringing together of many different people in the community with a single cause for the benefit of all.

B4RN Shows the Wray To The Light

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in B4RN News | Comments Off

Following on from an outstanding 2013 where the B4RN community pulled together to connect several remote areas to the hyperfast B4RN fibre network, which brought some customers from dial up to gigabit speeds. To get 2014 off to a super start, it is confirmed that the first customers in the village of Wray are now live on the B4RN network.

This is a particularly significant milestone for the project as Wray, (although still in a very rural area), has a dense population in comparison with the other areas so far connected. This is the largest village in the B4RN area, 229 homes – a virtual rural city.  This means that now the network has reached Wray, roll-out and subsequent take up should be accelerated. Given that Wray is a well connected village, thanks to the wifi mesh network that has been in place since 2004, the residents are already aware of the benefits of a good broadband connection and it is hoped that take up should be in the same region of other B4RN areas. Take up so far has been between 60-90% depending on location, much higher than the UK average.

Many will remember that the village was host to the now world famous Twicket match.

Well done and thanks to all involved in making this a reality. There are several villagers who have thrown their all into this project and have dug all the main duct in and helped all their neighbours get theirs dug in too. Several champions are now helping home owners install their boxes on the walls, ready for the B4RN team to come and blow in their fibre and fuse all the connections.

Here are a few videos made of the connection to Wray. This first one being particularly interesting as it features the Wray Methodist Church connection. The connection opens up some great options to the congregation, one of them being the ability to broadcast the services over the web to members of the congregation that may not be able to make it in person to the services. Several elderly people in the parish will find this a great comfort, as the church is a big part of their social life as well as their faith.

The video shows the initial speed test, restricted to 100Mbs (which is fast by any standard), due to the test laptop being on battery power save mode. In practice, speeds will be in the 900Mbs range that has commonly been seen by B4RN customers. A collection of photos can also be seen here.

B4RN Community Rallies Following Theft

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in B4RN News | Comments Off

Lancashire Rural Community Rallies Following B4RN Broadband Equipment Theft

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lancaster, Lancashire 4th December

On the night of the 4th December 2013, equipment was stolen from a trailer belonging to the B4RN community broadband project. The trailer was locked and parked at Fleets Farm, Gressingham near Lancaster as work was being carried out in that area. Thieves cut the padlock and took a number of items including a compressor, a generator, a transformer and a fibre optic cable blowing machine. The police were called at 09:00 the following morning and are dealing with the matter.

B4RN is fully insured for all operatives and equipment, however the theft of this equipment was likely to cause delays to work whilst replacements were sourced. B4RN volunteers are making a real push to get as many people as possible connected before Christmas so this was a particularly disheartening blow. Fortunately these delays have been eliminated as the community have pulled together in response and loaned money to B4RN so the equipment can be replaced quickly. In addition, one of B4RN’s main suppliers, Emtelle, have supplied replacement equipment on a loan basis. This will allow work to continue as planned which will ensure the community, which desperately needs the connectivity, receives it with the minimum of delay.

Clearly this is a disappointment to the B4RN community however in the spirit they have already demonstrated in providing one of the most rural parts of the UK with one of the fastest connections in the world, they have shown great resilience and once again pulled together robustly in support of their project because they are determined that this will not be a setback.

The B4RN community asks that if anyone has information on this theft then please contact Ben Hanley PC3962 at Lancaster Police Station on 01524 596608 quoting Crime Reference BA1303993.

Photographs of some of the main items stolen can be seen here.

B4RN & Emtelle Show-Tell Day #4

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in B4RN News | Comments Off

The fourth ShowTell day came and went, and many more people learnt how do JFDI. Here is a B4RNstorming story from one of the guests, Victoria Turk from Motherboard. read/this-rural-community-is-building-its-own-gigabit-fibre-network

The date has been set for the next Show-Tell day and this will be 9th April 2014. Full details are below. Click on the image to download the PDF.

B4RN Show-Tell #4

B4RN Show-Tell #4

The event, as before will be jointly hosted by B4RN and Emtelle in Lancaster and the surrounding B4RN area. The day will focus on sharing experiences and demonstrating installation techniques for rural fibre to the home/broadband initiatives.
Topics to be covered include:-

  • Customer Engagement
  • Product Selection
  • Network Planning
  • Content
  • Active Equipment
  • Hands on demonstrations
  • Field trip

We hope you will be able to join us for a fully interactive day! It is advised that due to the locations visited on the field trip that delegates bring suitable clothing such as a raincoat and walking boots or wellies!

Best regards

Barry Forde CEO, B4RN and Steven King Chief Commercial Officer, Emtelle

Please register for attendance by emailing info@emtelle.com. You we be sent further details regarding the full agenda and location.

Please use the same address for any other enquiries in connection with the event.

As is now customary, the Twitter hash tag for the event is #FTTHshowTell

The 3rd Show-Tell day has been and gone. It was very well attended and feedback from delegates was very good. The weather was kind to the group as they were taken on a tour of the areas where the B4RN team are deploying. Pictures of the event can be seen on the Facebook page here.