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Lancashire community broadband project reaches milestone

Tuesday, May 5th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A Lancashire village hall now has gigabit broadband speeds, after a community project to bring fibre to the area reached a milestone this weekend.

Yealand Village Hall now has a live ‘hyperfast’ broadband service, thanks to the B4YS project, organisers have announced.

The community-led initiative, which is a sub-project of Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN), aims to bring fibre broadband to the villages of Yealand, Silverdale and Storth.

B4RN, which is building a fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband network for the rural North West, is already bringing gigabit speeds of 1,000Mbps or above to parts of Lancashire and Cumbria.

Writing on the B4YS website, Mike Macklin, from the project’s Yealand team, said fibre in the village was connected to the network at the weekend.

“The hyperfast broadband service is now live in Yealand Village Hall,” he said.

“The hall is now connected, together with a few properties and businesses on the route from Tewitfield.”

He said the cabinet in the hall is fully operational, but the wi-fi router needs an electricity connection which will be completed this week.

Mr Macklin said the installation of a duct through Yealand Conyers, which will go towards Silverdale, is “well advanced” and they are waiting for permission for road crossings from Lancashire County Council which are expected to be received shortly.

He said the project is also making progress on wayleaves – permission to carry out work on certain property – through nearby Redmayne, and they hope to soon start work laying a duct.

'Do it right'

B4YS’s parent project B4RN was set up after residents decided to lay their own high-speed fibre optic cables rather than wait for BT’s fibre rollout.

Digging, connections, and services are provided by community volunteers and donations, and costs are met by selling shares in the broadband company to members of the local community.

The government has set a target of bringing superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps and above) to 90% of the UK by 2016 through its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

A superfast extension programme will extend coverage to 95% by the end of the following year.

The government has also committed £10m to alternative ways of bringing broadband to the “final 5%”, including pilot satellite schemes.

But Christine Conder, a founder member of B4RN, previously told Cable.co.uk that alternative technologies such as wireless and mobile broadband are not viable.

She said: “If it were easier or cheaper we would have done that. When there is a lot of traffic the mobiles won't connect because all the cells are limited capacity.

“We have run wi-fi networks here since 2005, and yes they are cheaper to build, but expensive to maintain. It also is unreliable due to the number of bounces, if any lose their power the rest of the network is off.

“We have tried all the different ways, and as a community we decided to do it once and do it right, and that is with fibre."

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