“All I want for Christmas (2021) is B4RN Broadband – would make ‘Staying at Home’ so much more bearable” – Dick, future B4RN customer.

Communities in North Tyne and Redesdale can look forward to receiving B4RN’s gigabit broadband.

With the help of a small team of local volunteers (B4NTR), a civil engineering team from B4RN has installed a green cabinet in Barrasford, opposite Chollerton C of E First School.

The school will receive a free service from B4RN. Headteacher, Hazel Davey, is looking forward to it: “This will make such a difference to us as the speed of the internet can be very variable, frustrating staff and pupils alike. The children have learnt to be very patient and it will be wonderful to improve the service for them.”

“Also, the financial implications for our small budget are massive and we can now redirect money to other projects to benefit the children.”

“Everything comes to those who wait. Thank you for all your hard work on this project and benefitting our small school so much.”

Eventually, customers will have their full fibre-to-the-home connections “patched in” inside the cabinet.

B4RN has been building a gigabit (1,000Mbps) capable fibre-to-the-premises network since 2011. It reaches into very remote parts of rural Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Norfolk, the Northeast and Yorkshire.

The cabinet installation is a big milestone for the local volunteer group – B4NTR – who have been working for more than a year to bring B4RN to the area. They helped plan the routes for the fibre ducting; got free access to land; encouraged local investment; secured government voucher funding (more on that below); and will help with some digging themselves!

The local Ray Wind Fund also provided seed money to get the B4RN project off the ground. The support of Northumberland Estates and other landowners has been vital too, allowing cabling to go across their land for free.

Prospective customer, Simon, says current broadband provision is letting him down: “The super fibre-based office-bound bureaucrats of BT and Openreach simply do not understand what it is like having to pay for and live with such abysmal services over so many years. The initiatives, drive and enthusiasm of B4RN should make them cringe.”

Meanwhile, another future B4RN customer, Jane, tried to get a “decent” broadband connection using the Universal Service Obligation (USO) scheme: “I live remotely, and other service providers have either refused to offer a service at all, or have quoted prohibitive prices (£110,000!).

“[Getting B4RN] is going to be life changing for me (and particularly our children) and I can’t say how grateful and impressed I am by this inspirational, not-for-profit, community-led and inclusive project.”

Signing up

People living in Barrasford, Gunnerton, Birtley, The Woodburns, Corsenside, Colwell, The Swinburnes, Thockrington, The Bavingtons, Kirkwhelpington, Cambo, Scots Gap, Wallington and any property in between can sign up for service at b4rn.org.uk/getb4rn

Doing so before mid-March 2021 will unlock government funding for the project, meaning more people can be connected and installation of the network will take place quicker.

For help with signing up or to find out more from your local group email: paul.B4NTR@gmail.com or message them through their Facebook page: facebook.com/B4NTR