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B4RN Focus: Farming & Connectivity

January 16th, 2023
Author: Mark Gray
Posted In: Latest news

We’re highlighting the digitalisation and diversification of farming and how that’s all underpinned by connectivity like B4RN.

B4RN has been bringing gigabit full fibre broadband to farms (no matter how remote) for more than a decade. We’re indebted to them for the knowledge of their land (meaning we can take the best route for our ducting); and the fact that many of them have granted free wayleaves, allowing B4RN infrastructure to be installed for the good of their neighbours and community.

As B4RN Director, Chris Carr puts it: “Why should they say ‘yes, we’ll let you go across for nothing and, what’s more, we’ll even put it in for you’. But in fact that’s exactly what they do. Nobody is more committed to a rural community than the local farmers – it’s where they live and work, it’s where their history and future is.”

And it’s the future of farms and farming where the gigabit connectivity B4RN provides is proving crucial. We were recently the topic of an article by rural policy campaigners, ARC 2022 – it explored the impact of B4RN on its local economies, concluding: “In many ways the rural-urban divide has been exasperated by increasing digitalisation. One community in the north of England, however, shows what’s possible when people come together.”

We’ve spoken to a number of farms about what B4RN is enabling for them, and about their relationship with B4RN…

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David Brass, CEO of Lakes Free Range Egg Company

Recently B4RN worked on the land of the Lakes Free Range Egg Company during strict disease control rules, with avian flu endemic in the UK. CEO David Brass was pleased with B4RN’s adherence to the regulations: “Your staff and the contractor were spot on. The plan we came up with worked perfectly. They cleaned the machine off and disinfected before they came on site. They stuck to agreed routes in both vehicles and walking. Afterwards, they pressure washed their gear and disinfected again. No, I couldn’t fault the way your guys organised that.”

David continued to explain the crucial role connectivity plays on his farms: “Probably in the UK industry we’re one of the leading companies in using data and intelligence, in particular, machine learning on data streams coming from chicken sheds and how to manage those – pick up disease and behaviour issues and improve performance and mortality. Years ago, there were basic quality sheds and basic livestock sheds with no connectivity to anything. That just doesn’t work nowadays. To get the optimal performance from our units, we need that reliable connectivity.”

When asked why he’d granted free wayleaves to B4RN, David said it’s about helping the community: “There’s a lot of the local village that wants connectivity. It’s a need for your neighbours and some of the people you have known for years, and you want to help out and provide the service. And when you’re working with a company happy to change and meet your requirements, it just seems sensible to get on with it.”

Sheila Mason

Sheila Mason, Keasden Head

Alongside farming duties, Keasden Head farm near Clapham run educational and wellbeing visits.

Sheila told us how having B4RN has helped: “The difference has been absolutely fabulous. One night, two o’ clock in the morning. We came up to calve a cow. We had our mobile phone with us but, of course, there’s no signal here but we could connect to the Wi-Fi. So we actually rang our local vets at two in the morning, connected to the Wi-Fi.”

Sheila continued to talk about their school visits: “We’ve been running about 14 years. As time’s gone by we’ve been able to improve facilities. When B4RN came in and got us a connection to the classroom it brought us up to speed. We use it with cameras across the farm, everything’s so quick. Things are going from strength to strength. We work with mental health as well, so we’ve lots of services to many groups.”

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Amy Bateman, Croft Foot Farm

Farmer and photographer, Amy Bateman – who’s behind the successful ‘Forty Farms’ book and exhibition – says having B4RN on her farm at Docker, near Kendal has really helped her professionally: “Oh without a doubt. I’m obviously a photographer and I send very large file sizes so the benefit of B4RN, for me, is the upload and the download speeds and being able to very efficiently and quickly send files to clients. Before we got B4RN here, a friend had it about a mile away and I used to drive to her house and use her B4RN to upload things! I could be waiting an hour here for files to be uploaded but I’d go there and be done in five minutes.

“The funny thing is I’m almost spoiled now by fast speed. I work so efficiently now and my workflow is speeded up because I can send huge files very, very fast and back things up quickly to cloud servers and things like that. It’s just streamlined my workflow quite remarkably and I would struggle without it.”

Amid all the future-proofing and economic benefits of B4RN, it could be easy to forget the simpler things in life and the effect B4RN has on farm family life. As one farmer put it: “After lambing 1300 ewes… streaming a good film is what I want and because we have B4RN that is no problem. Just enables me and my family to get on.”

To find out more about how the award-winning B4RN network works, head to our Homepage or follow us on social media:
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Stories from out in the field from our very happy customers

One residential customer in Over Kellet used to know whether it was worth firing up her computer by looking out of her front window to see what the weather was doing with her telephone line.

Customer Testimonial

We juggle two jobs from home, and it’s just been a game-changer. Just sign up! It’s the best internet service I’ve ever received, and I’ve moved a thousand times!
Georgiana, Dentdale
It has allowed us to improve our farm business through the implementation of Wi-Fi heat detection ankle bands on our herd, and thus improving our business productivity.
Heather Whalley, Farmer
OMG it is amazing! I don’t want to go back to London, which was faster than here, but not now! Just to say a BIG THANK YOU to all you guys, what a great thing you are doing. I’m shocked not everyone is signing up!
Customer in Norfolk
After lambing 1300 ewes a good film is what I want to watch and because we have B4RN that is no problem. Just enables me and my family to get on.
Farmer (Anonymous)
It’s like going from a Ford Anglia to a jet engine!
Jackie Frankland, Rathmell

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Connected Britain Bpoty All Caps Edit Best Rural Isp Winner 2022 Inca Winner 2022 Medium Connected Britain Community Improvement Award Winner 2022 Inca Ispa 1663059912