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Author Topic: B4RN - Broadband for the Rural North - progress  (Read 1793 times)


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B4RN - Broadband for the Rural North - progress
« on: December 30, 2014, 06:58:45 PM »

As we are approaching the end of 2014 I thought some of you might be interested in a B4RN progress report. VERY thankfully the weather this year has been much kinder than last yearís torrential storms. Note also that the project relies to a large extent on landowners trenching or mole-ploughing the fibre ducting over their own land; all core routes and spur completions arrive almost by happenstance, and when they do, there are usually a large batch of new connections all to be commissioned as rapidly as possible. We know that the total number of subscribers is fast approaching 1,000 properties with take up rates from over 50% right up to 100% in a few roads. The project is possibly approaching ⅓ of the target area although the area is also expanding now towards south Cumbria and west Yorkshire. The obvious target has been to connect the maximum number of properties so some outstanding work to provide the dual diverse fibre routes to every distribution node remains too. The longest single tube run completed is about 3.6 km to a single property without mains electricity or water. A B4RN objective is always to provide services to EVERY property in an area regardless of distance or difficulty. Although this might seem economic madness the Community Interest Company co-operative cannot make any profit at all for the shareholders; as they operate under free wayleave agreements, so the only constraint is the amount of volunteer effort involved. IMHO it's difficult to see how any other model could possibly provide universal 1 Gbps future-proofed services. (It is indeed encouraging to see such enterprise and a very pleasant change from HMG's "Superfast Britain" nonsensical TV advertisement with the backing music "Won't be fooled again" by The Who.) Nobody has taken up the offer so far, but there are two large offices for rent in Halton who have advertised B4RN symmetric broadband speeds of 10 Gbps.

I thought you might be interested to see an illustration of speed test statistics with some quite remarkable results; a copy of which Iíve illustrated today in the attached picture.

However, as with all statistics, some cautions and explanations are necessary.

1.  The web page is listed as the ďCityĒ (county town) of Lancaster but it includes vast areas of rural north Lancashire all with LA postcodes. In fact there isnít a single B4RN fibre 1,000 Mbps upload and download connection within central Lancaster. Conversely there are very few completed BT FTTCs within the total LA area** and those can only compete at the maximum ďUp to 76 Mbps download onlyĒ speeds for services out to around 300 m from the FTTC. (B4RN true P2P fibre connection speeds remain constant at any line distance and only rarely experience any contention slow-downs.)

2.  Most B4RN connections are all tested with the OOKLA speed test facility as that provides the most reliable results at the much higher speeds recorded (Only via their Manchester or Vodafone London servers); whereas BTís services are almost certainly measured by a variety of different speed test sites so only a fraction of VDSL services will be recorded on the OOKLA system. Similarly B4RN are likely to be enthusiastically demonstrating their prowess from nearly 100% of their connections but the same is unlikely for every BT service and we know their take-up rates are very much lower, possibly only around 10% of operational lines in VDSL-enabled PCPs.

** North Lancashire has some VDSL FTTC cabinets e.g  in Lancaster, Carnforth, Caton, Low Bentham and Kirkby Lonsdale but almost all have exchange only lines and missing or un-commissioned FTTC cabinets so far. Smaller conurbations seem to have more missing cabinets such as in Galgate and Forton. Although there are cabinets partially installed, no VDSL services are yet available from e.g. Halton, Hornby, Silverdale, Milnthorpe and Burton. Every exchange Iíve glanced at has some lines well over 1.8 km which I believe is the maximum limit published by BT Openreach. N.B. This brief summary is a sketchy over-view and certainly does not claim to approach a definitive statement. Those requiring more detailed information should consult the BT Wholesale and Openreach VDSL availability web sites. I would welcome additional contributions from others. However I think itís reasonable to state that there will be many more asymmetric VDSL FTTC and possibly a few FTTH services becoming available over perhaps the next two years.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2014, 09:13:16 AM by waltergmw »


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Re: B4RN - Broadband for the Rural North - progress
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2014, 07:44:38 PM »

Thank you Walter for the update and well done to B4RN who are one of the success stories for FTTH
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