Broadband for the Rural North Ltd or ‘B4RN’ (pronounced ‘Barn’) was launched in December 2011 by a local volunteer group, led by industry expert Barry Forde (now retired). Registered as a Community Benefit Society, it can never be bought by a commercial operator and its profits can only be distributed to the community or used to expand the network.
The company’s initial share offering raised hundreds of thousands of pounds from the local community and the first ground was broken in Quernmore in March 2012. Within months, B4RN’s affordable, community-focused model won it the ISPA’s ‘Internet Hero’ award. By 2015, we had 1000 properties connected and received royal recognition with a visit from HRH The Prince of Wales. We are regularly used as a leading exemplar by national TV and press of what is possible both in terms of gigabit fibre and an empowered rural community.
- B4RN has around 9,000 connected properties
- B4RN is an equal opportunities employer with more than 70 staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers
- Uptake of B4RN averages about 75% of all properties in the communities we’ve completed
- Local communities have invested more than £9m in B4RN
- B4RN has more than 2, 900 shareholders
*figures updated August 2021
How it all began
Barry Forde’s background as an industry leading UK specialist in networking, particularly wide area fibre networks, means B4RN is professionally designed to world class standards; fast, resilient, expandable and futureproof. Michael Lee has since taken over from Barry as CEO. Chris Conder and Lindsey Annison were also founding members of the team and brought experience from other local community wireless mesh and fibre networks. Monica Lee brought management skills, and so B4RN was born. In 2015 both Barry and Chris were included on the Queen’s Honours list and awarded MBEs. We have been joined by several other dedicated team members with a diverse range of skills who comprise the B4RN team. A few more are introduced on the People page.
We are incredibly proud that B4RN is driven and built by local volunteers with invaluable support from landowners and farmers. We are not public sector funded – instead we rely on local investment into B4RN and government voucher funding.
Broadband for the Rural North Ltd
FCA Mutuals Public Register, Company Registration Number 31352R (Our publicly filed Accounts and Annual Returns can be found here)
Monica Lee (Company Secretary)
Tel: 01524 555887
Helpdesk (customer support)
Tel: 01524 238499