Monday, August 15, 2011

B4RN wants to bring customer-owned Gigabit to Lancashire

Another Gigabit initiative has launched: B4RN (Broadband for Rural North), in Lancashire, England. They are currently assessing demand and at a 50 percent take-up rate, the project will go ahead. B4RN wants to know by October 2011. In Phase 1, the network is to connect 8 parishes with 1,300 properties: Arkholme, Wennington, Melling, Wray, Tatham, Roeburndale, Over Wyresdale, Quernmore and Caton with Littledale (Littledale part only). This phase will cost GBP 1.86m (this includes some of the shared costs between all phases). There will be 3 phases.

Needless to say, Lindsey Annison of Fibrevolution is involved.

The specs:
  • FTTH, 1 Gb/s symmetrical (and, depending on the electronics: more in the future);
  • Aimed at Britain's 'final third': rural areas;
  • Cost per home: GBP 1,000 at most, based on community co-operation;
  • Financing through the issuance of shares; founding members invest a minimum of GBP 1,500; the Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), a non-profit, will own the network, shareholders are members; you can also earn a share by doing work for B4RN;
  • Interested individuals outside the reach of the network can buy shares for a sum anywhere between GBP 100 and GBP 20,000;
  • First year of service comes free (worth GBP 510);
  • Normal price: GBP 150 connection fee plus a GBP 25 (excl. VAT) monthly fee;
  • Femtocells may be added;
  • B4RN will be the ISP, providing Ethernet IP; they are considering to provide access to other ISPs (using VLANs), but what's the point?
Some thoughts:
  • Another Gigabit initiative, even in rural areas. Customer-owned is getting hot.
  • Anyone can be a share owner.
  • Will there be some form of co-operation with the Fujitsu initiative, that involves Virgin Media UK and TalkTalk?
  • Just broadband + Internet access, no triple play. Over-the-top (OTT) services are recommended: a Gmail address, VoIP, YouView.
  • Third-party ISPs could sign up to sell their well-known triple plays, it remains to be seen if this will be part of the plans.
  • I wonder if they would be interested in speaking at our conference .....

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