written by
Max White

Farmer builds DIY broadband network

Farmer's tractor

Ofcom says that broadband coverage in the UK, or lack of, makes life a daily struggle for 1.4 million rural households and small businesses. 

For ‘farmer’s wife’ Christine Conder, enough is enough. She’s taken matters into her own hands and created a local superfast broadband network for her and her neighbours in rural Lancashire.

So fast is Christine’s DIY broadband, that those on B4RN’s network receive speeds up to 35 times faster than the 28.9 Mbps UK average speed.

No other choice

When surrounding trees grew taller than the wireless mast that provided the community’s internet connection, residents were unable to get online. With no other alternative available, Christine bought a kilometre of fibre-optic cable and got to work.

With the help of volunteer farmer friends, Christine has dug up something like 2,000 miles of farmland to lay her cabling under.

Nearby parishes also in need of faster, better broadband have caught wind of their operation and are queuing up to get connected. Mrs Conder says demand is so high that her team have enough work to last them 10 years.

A lot to answer for

When ordinary people can build their own network in three days that’s fast and cost effective – households pay £30 a month as B4RN subscribers and an initial £150 connection fee – BT Openreach has a lot to answer for.

But now that the state monopoly is set to ‘legally separate’, attention turns to the Government for a plan – and the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative is it. 

The BDUK is supporting investment to:

  • provide superfast broadband coverage to 90% of the UK by early 2016 and 95% by December 2017
  • provide access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all from December 2015
  • explore options to provide superfast coverage to the hardest to reach parts of the UK
  • encourage the take up of superfast broadband by SMEs to support growth through the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme (now closed)
  • improve mobile coverage in remote areas by 2016

The sooner the better

A fast and reliable broadband connection is important for everyone in today’s modern world, but it’s most important to small businesses. For many of them, they simply cannot run their businesses without the internet.

For their sake alone, we hope that Britain gets the fibre infrastructure it needs, and quick. There aren’t enough go-getters like Christine around to rescue the whole nation from the dark ages.


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