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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

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 | 0 comments

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.

Well hello Autumn

Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in B4RN News | 3 comments

IMG_8760

First chamber of the day before the rain came

Hello Autumn, your colours are starting to be as beautiful as ever, but we don’t welcome the rain… the B4RNstormers have to adapt though, and a 50 year old landrover (thanks Sheena) is called into service as well as a toilet tent which can be quickly put up if a shower comes.

Work is progressing on the Quernmore route to connect all the houses on the fibre already blown towards Littledale. Not many homes on the route, but all are important to B4RN, most of these properties have no internet unless they get expensive satellites.

Soon we will also have the loan of a Freelander which Iain is going to build an awning for so we can operate whatever the weather.

The second share issue has a few more months to run, but be sure to get your shares now if you want them and then you qualify for a free connection if you become a foundation member. Details are here Shares link if you want to download the share prospectus or a share form.

 

This is a short video of work progressing up Littledale towards Roeburndale to complete a big section of the core route before Winter sets in.

Only a short dig now into the village of Wray to finish and customers to connect on the way.

The cabinet has been delivered to Wray and looks very smart. Thank you to the chapel for agreeing to host it on their land, it will provide connectivity to all the farmers and they can livestream the services to the elderly who can’t always get to chapel in winter. The people in Wray are busy digging the ducting into their properties ready for when the main route joins them from Roeburndale.

cabinet arrives in Wray

Iain measuring up where the shed has to fit.

IMG_8771

Cabinet unwrapped, and Phil is the first to open it up to have a look inside.

 

 

 

 

 

Work has progressed at the end of Arkholme route 5, and the people of Keerside will be connected this week. More have been connected in Abbeystead with the great work done at Lower Lee to get them online after they lost their dial up connections. Lower Lee Photo album click here

All systems go for B4RN, with the community spirit showing up every where.

Great coverage by BBC click for the amazing work done by the Gressingham diggerers, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01f2xfn Their fibre is now blown connecting the village to Arkholme.

Blot on the horizon was Network rail refusing to let us use their bridge to cross the River, so now we need to save up for an UnderTheRiver dig. That’s why we want more shareholders, so please do consider investing, its a fantastic project to be involved in. Even the best efforts of our loyal MP Eric Ollerenshaw didn’t manage to persuade them to help us, a simple duct over the bridge would have taken 20 minutes to lay. so much for ‘Big Society’.

Watch this space for news of the AGM, we’ll make a party out of it and make sure the venue has gigabit hyperfast internet access. And there will be cake.

Dolphinholme got their cabinet this week too and have already built the plinth. There are lots of photos on the friends of Dolphinholme facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-Dolphinholme/277235329020853 and thanks to Allen for his photographic skills recording all this for posterity.

Dolphinholme Plinth and B4RNstormers

 

Dolphinholme Plinth and B4RNstormers by Allen Norris

 

 

 

 

B4RN Project Gets Extra Traction. The 4×4 Kind.

Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 in B4RN News | 4 comments

When thinking of how best to drive around rugged terrain normally only two words come to mind. LAND and ROVER. Which is why B4RN applied to the inaugural Land Rover countryside bursary which was set up in partnership with The Princes Countryside Fund.

Update, photos of the delivery on our facebook page click here

As followers of the project will know, due to the nature of the deployment, most of the network is installed under and through farm land, the majority inaccessible to anything with less than four leg or four wheel drive. The B4RN team have got by, (just about), using spare farm vehicles, private vehicles and plain old (and young) leg power but it has not been ideal or easy, especially given the bad weather over the last 12 months.

Well the team will struggle no more after it was announced at the recent CLA Game Fair, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire that B4RN was one of the five first ever beneficiaries of the bursary and will receive a free loan of a Land Rover Freelander 2.

It goes without saying that this will be indispensable to the team for pulling the trailer full of kit to to the many locations around the B4RN area. As the network deployment will be going on into the winter the Land Rover will certainly be put through its paces. Look out for some videos over the next few months of the Freelander 2.

Many thanks to Tom Hartley from the team for his hard work in applying for the bursary.

20130811-214751.jpg

B4RN’s Tom Hartley, (front left) and the rest of the Land Rover Bursary winners with TV’s Phil Spencer, (rear right).

The official press release text from Land Rover is below and here is the link to the same on the Prince’s Countryside Fund site.

Land Rover and The Prince’s Countryside Fund today named their first ever successful candidates for the inaugural Land Rover bursary.

The Bursary serves to award the rising stars of rural Britain and recognise their efforts to revitalise British countryside communities. The Freelander 2, and the rest of the Land Rover family, is the natural choice for those who live and work in the Countryside, offering true capability and versatility to tackle all weathers and terrains.

The announcement was made at the CLA Game Fair at Ragley Hall, Alcester, Warwickshire, where candidates were officially congratulated by Land Rover ambassador, TV presenter and journalist Phil Spencer, a fellow Land Rover driver and countryside supporter. In total five successful candidates were chosen, with each receiving a year’s loan of a Land Rover Freelander 2 as part of the bursary.

Applicants for the scheme had to undergo a rigorous selection process comprising an initial application, character references and interview, as well as demonstrating that the use of a Freelander 2 for a year would enable them to support their rural community. The successful candidates were those that exuded community spirit, exhibited a genuine need for a Freelander 2 and were the most likely to use the Bursary to make a long-term, positive difference to the community around them.

The successful candidates were named as:

1.Sian Curley – Firewood social enterprise – Ullapool, Ross-shire

2.Thomas Hartley – Rural broadband – Hornby, Lancaster

3.Edward Richardson – Farm outreach worker – Penzance, Cornwall
4.James Rebanks – Herdwick sheep farmer – Penrith, Cumbria
5.Mark Curr – Farmer and chairman of Cumbria YFC – Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

Sian Curley, who runs a community-owned firewood business based in Ullapool, North-West Scottish Highlands, applied to the Land Rover Bursary scheme for help delivering wood to the local community. The only employee of Lochbroom Woodfuels, wholly owned by the Ullapool Community Trust, Sian serves a remote and sparsely populated area where people suffer fuel poverty with ever-rising energy costs.

The scheme sources timber from sustainably managed local forests and provides fuel to customers at a fair cost. Sian did not have a vehicle suitable for delivering logs, so the worst hit in the community – those without access to a trailer or pick-up – were missing out. Her new Bursary Freelander 2 will solve these problems.

Sian commented, “I feel so privileged to be one of the first ever candidates to receive The Prince’s Countryside Fund Land Rover Bursary. Living in the remote Highlands means a rugged and reliable off-road vehicle is really a necessity for my job, and as I was without one my local community was missing out too. I am exceptionally grateful to all involved and can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”

All bursary winners will document their progress and the positive effect of the Freelander 2 on their business and their community via video diaries over the next 12 months.

Laura Schwab, Marketing Director of Land Rover UK, said: “We are delighted to be have been able to announce the successful candidates today and are sure that the Freelander 2 they receive will make a dramatic difference to their projects. Having reliable and
dependable transport to work in the countryside is essential and we are excited to see what the coming year brings for them.

Victoria Harris, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said “The Prince’s Countryside Fund was set up to support the people who live and work in the countryside. We had some outstanding entries for the Bursary and heard some very inspiring stories and are sure that those candidates we have selected will go on to make a difference in their rural communities”.

Land Rover announced in January 2013 a three-year partnership with The Prince’s Countryside Fund. The partnership involves the support of rural communities and offers help to people living in the countryside dedicated to building a sustainable future in these locations.