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.
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.
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.