A volunteer-funded venture to bring hyperfast broadband to the Diss Express area has been busy digging towards the next step – with members braving snowy weather.
B4RN East Anglia (B4RN EA) aims to deliver state-of-the-art, 1,000 megabits per second (mbps) broadband to rural communities in Norfolk and Suffolk.
We are now concentrating on getting the network live in Scole Community Centre so that people can come and experience the hyperfast speeds for themselvesDavid Evans
Local volunteers for B4RN EA met on Sunday, December 10 for the ‘Day of the Spades’ and marked the beginning of the first build-out in Scole.
B4RN EA regional director, Michael Davey, said: “The exciting news is that we have started construction of the East Anglian fibre route, and the first to be connected will be Scole Community Centre and a few properties en-route from Billingford.
“B4RN was created entirely from the needs of the community, from people coming together and saying enough is enough, we’ve got to do something about rural broadband. B4RN East Anglia was what the community set up to deliver it for this region.”
The fibre network will be built and maintained by the community using volunteers to lay the fibre optic and with permission from farmers.
Fellow regional director, David Evans, added: “The reason B4RN works is that the communities and farmers work together.
“Over 130 villages in this region have expressed an interest in implementing a B4RN project. We are now concentrating on getting the network live in Scole Community Centre so that people can come and experience the hyperfast speeds for themselves.”
In September, B4RN EA opened funding pots for Thelveton, Shimpling and Gissing villages. When the villages meet their funding target, work will start on their build-outs. A general funding pot has also opened for those wanting to support the initiative.
The 1,000 mbps link B4RN EA aims to provide to each property connected is said to be between 40 and 1000 times faster than most residents in Norfolk and Suffolk experience today, and is upgradable to 10 times or 100 times that speed in the future – dubbed as ‘future proof’.
The inititive is an off-shoot of Broadband for the Rural North Ltd (B4RN) launched in 2011, a registered community benefit society with profits can only distributed to the community. B4RN has an existing network covers an area of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire Dales.
In light of the forthcoming B4RN EA connection, Clive Blakesley, chairman of Scole Community Centre, said: “We’re hoping to offer a wider range of activities at the community centre, enabled by the broadband, such as introducing gaming evenings for the local children and providing decent broadband for meetings and events.”
For more information, visit b4rnorfolk.org.uk