Allen Valleys Journalist Says Having B4RN Helps Working Life
November 14th, 2022
Author: Mark Gray
One of B4RN’s recent new customers in the Allen Valleys – Guardian writer, lecturer & photographer, Susie White – has taken the time to pen a little case study about the difference B4RN has made to her working life.
As a journalist writing about gardens, nature and travel I rely on a good broadband service to send in work. Living in a rural area means that I’m surrounded by the landscape and wildlife that I often feature in my Country Diary for the Guardian. But it also used to mean frustration with slow Internet speeds and time wasted whilst waiting for photographs to be loaded up.
When we heard about B4RN I went with my husband to the first public meetings and we took part in some of the volunteer digs. That was great, that feeling that the community were getting together to help each other and we met neighbours that we hadn’t met before. I began to see posts on the local Facebook pages, dramatic before and after pictures showing the speeds that people were getting as their B4RN service went live. Living quite a long way from the main road I somehow rather doubted how successful it would be for us.
It really said it all when I needed to update my computers operating system and was told that our connection speeds were so low that it would take 24 hours! Advised to take the computer to a friends house or an Internet café, I decided to hang on and wait, hoping we could get our B4RN connection before not too long.
In the end it all happened very fast. The cable laying machine took less than an hour to make it a mile across fields and down a steep slope to arrive at our gate. The installation was done by Graeme Tutin with a couple of neat inconspicuous boxes, one in the kitchen, one outside and the cable sunk across a flowerbed and a path – just a month later there’s no new sign where it was laid. I watched with Graeme as the thin fibre cable shot out of the box, having been blown down the hill from a mile away. Amazing!
Straight away I updated my computer and instead of 24 hours it took less than an hour, much to my relief. Our download speed went from 5Mbps to over 500. Before the changeover, the radio would keep cutting out every time somebody was using the computer, very frustrating when you’re trying to listen to something. Being able to give a talk via Zoom without worrying about loss of service was great. Since I write for a number of magazines I regularly have to send in photographs via Dropbox. I was used to this taking over a quarter of an hour during which time I would have to do something else. So I was astonished the first time I dragged 20 photographs into Dropbox and they went instantly. When you’re working this saves so much time and my family in Hexham are really envious of the broadband speeds that we get out here in the middle of the countryside!