Volunteer group launches ultra-fast fibre broadband plan for East Anglia

Michael Davey and David Evans of B4RNorfolk with members of the Tivetshall community
Michael Davey and David Evans of B4RNorfolk with members of the Tivetshall community

Volunteer social enterprise groups have joined forces to offer ultra-fast fibre optic broadband to East Anglia – including South Norfolk and North Suffolk.

They plan to deliver 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) download and upload speeds for £30 per month including line rental and VAT.

The East Anglia initiative has been created entirely from the needs of the community, people coming together and saying ‘enough is enough, we’ve got to do something about rural broadband

B4RN East Anglia’s volunteer regional director Michael Davey

Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) announced last week that it is extending its pure fibre optic network into East Anglia with the volunteer group, Broadband for Rural Norfolk, becoming the East Anglian division of B4RN.

B4RN launched in 2011, as a volunteer-run non-profit community benefit society. It now delivers full fibre broadband to more than 90 communities in Lancashire, Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales.

B4RN says that rural communities have been left behind urban areas and have poorer phone and broadband services – and that poor connections are having a negative impact on people, education and businesses.

B4RN East Anglia’s volunteer regional director, Michael Davey, said: “The East Anglia initiative has been created entirely from the needs of the community, people coming together and saying ‘enough is enough, we’ve got to do something about rural broadband’.

“The current network of ageing copper and aluminium cables dramatically slows the speed of broadband.

“Even when fibre is connected to it, nothing is being done to prevent constant breaks caused by the ancient infrastructure.

“The answer is to bring a fast, reliable fibre connection to each home and to put our rural communities at the cutting edge of digital communications technology”.

Fibre to the home (FTTH) is the installation and use of fibre optics from a central point directly to individual homes and businesses to give unprecedented high-speed internet access.

The system supplies broadband speeds that will be 40 to 1,120 times faster than those currently available in rural East Anglia.

The group points out that the 1,000 Mbps technology can even be upgraded to ten or even 100 times faster than that in the future.

B4RN East Anglia volunteer director David Evans said: “The technology is future proof. Today only two per cent of the UK population have FTTH connections, whereas other world-leading countries in Europe and the rest of the world currently have up to 93.7 per-cent.

“We are aware of the amazing success of B4RN in Lancashire and we want to replicate that in East Anglia.

“Our ethos is that each community takes responsibility for its own build and funding.

“B4RN provides the ‘glue’ that connects and maintains the network once built, with profits going back into the communities that run it”

B4RN East Anglia are currently looking for volunteers and landowners to help with the project.

To register an interest see b4rnorfolk.org.uk.