Home is where the B4RN is

Frequently Asked Questions in no particular order. Please email your questions to info@b4rn.org.uk and we will add them to this list. We have received quite a few technical questions so have started another page of answers which are linked here. Below are the general questions which seem to be repeated by a lot of people about B4RN itself.

Do I need a phone line for Sky?
No, not a standard phone line.
You can use a B4RN phone line through the network, more details technical FAQ page 

Can I dispense with my old phone line?
Yes. More details on technical FAQ page

How does this service differ from that offered by BT, Virgin Media or any of the other ISPs?

There is currently no company in the UK offering a 1Gb service to residential properties. The service is symmetrical meaning that you can download and upload at the same speed and it will belong to you, the local shareholders.

Can I keep my email address?

Yes. If you use a web-based service such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo.If your email address is given to you by your existing ISP for example  @btinternet.com or @aol.com, you will need to set up a free webmail address. We recommend Gmail.

What do I need to do to get the service?

Please sign up and indicate your interest. Please read the details of the project and how to get involved for more information.

I am still under contract with another service provider. Will I still need to pay them if B4RN connects me?

If you become a Foundation member, you will receive one year's service from B4RN for free once the connection reaches your property. For the vast majority of people, this will mean that your ISP contract will expire during that time (click for more details on ISPs). For those on longer contracts (e.g. satellite users with a 24 month contract), it may be that you will need to pay for both services for a short time. However, we are working on a solution for anyone on a long contract. Please get in touch if this may help you.

What is a Foundation member?

Foundation members are those who have invested a minimum of £1500 in B4RN.

What do I get if I am a Foundation member?

    1)    30% tax relief on your shares, unless you are an employee of the B4RN
    2)    1 year's free subscription to a property designated by you, with reduction in tax rebate.
    3)    Once dividends are paid, you will receive an annual dividend

Will this project succeed?

With the support of the local community, this project will succeed. It is not  an easy task to build one of the world's most advanced networks in a rural area, the team behind the project are the most experienced that could be asked for, the business plan is solid, and any difficulties, whilst not underestimated, can be overcome. We urge you to read the business plan on this site and ask any questions if something hasn't been made clear.

Who will own the network?

The network will be owned by the Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) of which every shareholder is a member.

Who will run the network?

Employees of the B4RN will run the network, and they will be based in the local area.

Can I run a business over the connection?

Yes. There will be one level of service for both businesses and residential properties.

I do not live in the area but would like to invest. Is this possible?

Yes you can buy any number of shares between the £100 minimum and £20,000 maximum. Additionally if you have subscribed to £1500 or more you could nominate someone in the community who can get a connection for the free offer. You don’t however have to buy £1500; even if its just £100 you will be helping the project succeed.

I do not have much money. Can I still own shares?

Yes. If you have skills that are needed by the project, you can earn your shares by working on the project.

I don't use the internet very much, is this connection too much for me?

If you only use the internet infrequently, the B4RN connection will make life much easier, faster and enjoyable. No more waiting for slow websites to appear, photos and videos can be easily shared or watched, and you will be able to talk and video chat with people around the world for free.

Can I watch TV over the connection?

There are now free services such as Tvcatchup.co.uk to watch TV, but you must still have a TV licence. YouView is due to be launched in January 2012 and that will change the face of UK TV forever. As long as you have a great broadband connection like B4RN....

Why aren't BT doing this?

BT is a private company with shareholders to whom BT must remain answerable.

Who will I need to phone if I have problems?

There will be a B4RN helpdesk which will be located in the local area.. You will be talking to someone local to you if there are any issues that need solving.

Will I have a wireless connection?

The connection which comes into your property is via fibre optic cable. You can connect a wireless router into the small box that B4RN will provide using an ethernet cable. However, please be aware that currently no wireless specification supports the 1Gbps speed available via the B4RN connection.

Can I use multiple computers on the connection?


Can I plug my TV into the connection to watch films on the TV?

Yes. Provided your TV supports internet connectivity via an ethernet cable.
Which parishes will B4RN connect?

Initially, B4RN is planning to connect Arkholme, Wennington, Melling, Wray, Tatham, Roeburndale, Over Wyresdale, Quernmore,
and the Littledale part of the parish
Caton with Littledale. This is Phase 1. Further phases are planned for the coming 24-48 months and you can see all the project maps on the About B4RN page.

When will we know if this is going ahead?

We are pursuing an aggressive timescale for B4RN and need at least 50% of properties to sign up across the initial project area for a green light. So, we need you to talk to your neighbours, family, friends and colleagues about the project to get people to indicate interest AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Help the project by checking the How you can Help page and newsletters regularly.

Who is paying for this?

You are! Your investment in this project will mean that we are able to proceed with minimal outside funding, form filling or waiting on grant decisions. Once we have passed the minimum sign ups needed to proceed, any shortfall in funds from shareholders will be sought either from external investment, as a loan, or from grants.

I don't use the Internet, what's in it for me?

Do you watch TV and films or listen to the radio? Take photos or capture videos of your family? Have you friends and family abroad who you talk to on the phone? All of this is possible with your connection to B4RN, even if you are not particularly interested in the Internet.

Additionally, we believe that the internet is not going to go away, and that access to it and the e-government, health, education services will become increasingly essential for everyone. On top of this, there are thousands of new uses for a broadband connection appearing each day around the world, and soon many of these will be unusable without the level of connectivity that B4RN plans to offer.

[Section] What's In It For Me coming soon

Someone said this will put my house price up. Is that true?

Evidence from around the world and in the UK has shown that properties with high quality and fast Internet connections sell for more money. One report showed that this could add at least 10% to the value of your house. If your house is worth more than £15,000, then the £1500 for a Foundation Membership would be well spent! More importantly Estate agents are reporting that houses without good internet access do not get many viewers these days, so houses are becoming increasingly difficult to sell in rural areas. Ask yourself whether an investment in B4RN shares or service could be the best home improvement you could ever make....?!

What happens if wayleaves/easements are refused by:
(a) one landowner
(b) two landowners
(c) three or more landowners?
If a landowner refuses permission then we revisit the route and select a different one that bypasses that property. If we had a number of joined up refusals creating a long strip needing a big detour to avoid, then the alternative is to go with the usual telco method of using the highway. Much of our area has soft verges which we can use and if that isn’t possible then we would revert to slot laying in the highway. Yes this will have the effect of pushing up the cost but it is containable within the overall budget. The only time a wayleave refusal would be a real problem is where we have a potential customer who can ONLY be reached by crossing the land of someone who refuses us permission. Obviously if someone refused us permission to lay on their land and it was only their property which would lose service it’s not an issue.

It is possible we will get some refusals, for instance there may be absentee landlords with no interest in the community who refuse to support the project, but opinion is that the numbers are unlikely to be high enough to cause us a problem with the build out and therefore we don’t see this as a major risk factor.
How much work inside a property to connect computer, phones, TV?

This all depends on the layout of your house. We can bring the connection in to your property at the most suitable place, and once it is in you would connect up all your equipment just the same as you would with any connection, be it wifi, landline, satellite, cable or fibre.

I have read all the documents, I want to invest, I want a connection and have registered on your form. How long will it be before I can pay, and how long before I get a connection?

See our timeline on the 'Getting Involved' page, where we predict the course of the project. We have published this information to gauge interest in this service. If enough people feel the same as you, we are on course. Spread the news.

Please find answers to common questions about this project here, and more still on FAQ page.

Question:- Why would I want this superfast broadband when my existing connection is fine for my everyday use?
Answer:- Your existing broadband is likely to be up to 2Mb now and in the future. This is fairly adequate for basic e-mails, surfing the web, ordering on Amazon etc. but going forward the majority of broadband connections in the UK will be on 20Mb and above. This will allow a huge range of additional services such as internet TV, massive enhancement to existing applications as well as a huge number of new services - you are set to miss out on all of this.

Question:- So why shouldn't I just wait for these new services to come along & join B4RN later?
Answer:- Because without enough support now B4RN will not go ahead, and with BT only likely to offer 2Mb broadband, these new services will be unobtainable!

Question:- I pay less than £20 for my broadband at present so why should I pay £30 to B4RN?
Answer:- Not only will B4RN offer a fantastic broadband service, but you will also be able to replace your landline with a VoIP service (Voice over Internet Protocol). By not having to pay BT for line rental at £14.60 per month, it is most likely B4RN will actually SAVE you money !

Question:- How will you get the fibre optic cable into my property?
Answer:- Small plastic ducts containing the fibre will be installed over farmland to local points. From there it will branch out to each property. Access for the cable into your property will be discussed fully with you, but essentially it will be the same as existing services such as your electricity cable or phone line.

Question:- Don't I have to invest £500 minimum in B4RN?
Answer:- No! There is no requirement to buy shares in B4RN, but we are sure many people will want to buy shares and everyone is invited to become a member. For example if you did wish to invest, say £1,500 in shares, then tax relief is available at 30% as the scheme is an Enterprise Investment Scheme. This means a tax rebate of £450 in this example, together with a waiver of the £150 connection fee AND 12 months free broadband saving another £360!! Don't forget you'd also still have £1,500 of shares that can be released later when B4RN has free cash. It is also our intention to pay 5% interest on the shares from year 4. 

This really is the only option for high quality broadband for this area. It is vital we get enough community support as we look to press ahead with this scheme.

Now is the time to register your interest - don't wait for it to happen, MAKE it happen!! Register now

(Do you enjoy taking photos and making videos? B4RN is looking for help in that area, so get in touch. Thanks.) 

Questions and answers from the launch event now online on this video, Many thanks to Lunar for the film.

Question from the launch event:
What does the battery backup look like, and what is a splice point/access chamber?
battery back up and splice point/access chamber

Do I have to invest or can I just sign up for a service?
Yes, all you have to do is sign up to take the service, we realise not everyone can afford to invest, though if you do we can dig further and faster.

What will the installation look like?
We haven't got photos of the kit we are going to use yet, Lins found a company who supply kit with 4xgigabit ports, 2 telephone ports and 300 meg 'N' wifi, no final decision made yet, but here are samples of similar size stuff:

client premise equipment

sample of client premise equipment, a small box the size of a double plug socket.
inside shot of cpe
inside the box
client premise equipment
more client premise equipment
inside the box below
inside the media convertor

“I understand that the monthly charge includes 'line rental'. Is there the facility to provide a telephone connection so that the vagaries and strange practices of BT Telecom can be done away for ever and become a thing of the past?”

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is:-
What B4RN will offer is VoIP telephony. This means a small box is connected to the network in your house and then your existing phone(s) can be plugged into that box (two phone ports are standard). We will charge you for this box, price not set yet but it will probably be around £25. You then own the box. What this box does is convert your old analogue phone into a VoIP phone. It is also possible to buy a new VoIP phone from any number of suppliers and these just plug into your network like a PC or other device. VoIP phones do not need the convertor box as they have this built into the handset.

VoIP phones then communicates with our two VoIP telephone exchanges over the fibre network in the same way as your PC communicates with the Internet. We can arrange for your existing phone number to be moved across to B4RN and once that is done anyone calling your existing landline number will be connected to your handset via the new box over the fibre. You can then make and receive calls in the same way as now. If you want additional phone numbers we can organise that.

On your monthly bill you will see the £30 for the broadband link and also the charges incurred making phone calls during the previous month. Because our system uses VoIP we can link to a number of big providers who will sell us call capacity at low wholesale costs. So calls via our system will cost no more than BT calls and for most national and internal calls they will be cheaper. Note that we are not proposing to charge anything extra for having this telephony service, all you pay for are the calls you make.

All calls to numbers within the B4RN network will be free of charge.

There are also independent VoIP providers based in the Internet who will offer the same service. They will send you a box similar to the one we would provide but it will link to their VoIP exchange rather than ours. Some of these providers offer cheap international calls and things like “all you can use” telephony for a fixed monthly fee, similar to BT’s anytime package.
This is a link to the Vonage service click here showing their ATA adaptor. Free adaptor, £3.99 first 3 months, £5.99 month thereafter.

Whether you use B4RN or an independent VoIP provider is up to you. If you make few calls on your landline and really only have it for incoming calls then the B4RN service is probably your best bet. If you make a lot of calls, particularly international ones then an independent provider might work best for you.

Of course if you are a user of free services such as SKYPE these too will work over our network and you can make calls through them in the same way as over any other broadband link. The main difference is that our very high bandwidth will ensure that there are no congestion issues within our network so you will get good quality. However do remember that outside of our network the usual rules of the Internet apply and bandwidth/congestion are outside of our control. Our VoIP service will use dedicated bandwidth to get to the wholesalers so we can be confident that no congestion will occur on our side of the link and call quality will be high.

Finally, we will also provide a 1 hour battery backup on both the fibre termination unit and the VoIP convertor box which must be located alongside of it so that it can be plugged into the battery backup system.

This will ensure that even in the event of a power failure your handset can still be used for up to an hour including making 999 calls. This complies with the proposed OFCOM recommendations.

I hope that answers your question? If not then let me know what else you want clarifying.

Thanks for that very detailed answer to my question. I currently use the BT Caller Display system and wonder if this would still work with the B4RN system, using my existing telephones . . . . . . but please don't go to any trouble over this at this relatively early stage.

Yes the call display will work with the B4RN service and in fact we will probably offer a range of additional services that make use of the power of VoIP. For instance you will get a logon account on the exchange which will let you monitor your billing. You can also setup a voice mail system that includes things like having your voice messages sent to an email address as an attachment so you don’t have to access you voice mail box to pick them up. Handy when on holiday abroad or whatever.

Other clever things that should be available are setting up a group of numbers within the B4RN network that either get rung in sequence or all at the same time. So if you think you might be out you can get the phone calls to chase you. I think we will probably have to have a bit of a think about how much functionality to turn on. It’s not a case of it costing us anything, it comes as standard with the exchange, but there are questions about the amount of effort needed to handle all the questions and potential issues with the fancy features.

b4rn subscriber: re security cameras & using them through the FTTH system. Not really sure how it works. Could you explain? If a farmer or resident had security cameras around their property ...

Traditionally most CCTV systems record the video pictures from the cameras to what used to be tape via a coax cable. In recent years the tape machines have been replaced by Digital Video Recorders (DVR’s), The DVR converts the analogue video picture into digital images that can be saved on a computer hard drive. Since these pictures are now digital it is now possible to view the recordings and cameras remotely via the internet but this involved a lot of bandwidth and the pictures needed to be compresses so small that the image quality suffered.

In the last few years a new compression system known as MPEG h264 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC ) has been adapted to be used for CCTV and been embedded into the cameras. This now means that the camera can be connected directly to an IP network such as the one B4RN is proposing and allows viewing and recording to be performed anywhere in the world! Ideally the recording would be on the BARN internal network and so reduce the costs of backhauling the data to the external network but you get what I mean. As the recordings are being made remotely even if a thief etc broke in there would be no recorder to steal and so the evidence would be safe.

With regards to the farmers security, The farmer can have a number of cameras around the property that are connected by cheap CAT5/6 cable this would then be connected to the broadband fibre. The recordings can then be made off site. Equipment would be stored in a safe environment with no need for servicing or cost of a dedicated recorder.

When recording CCTV there are some compliance issues to be dealt with if the public are being recorded or members of staff but I can help with that if required.

If you would like any more information please let me know and I would be happy to help.
Best regards
Dave Jarrard
Contact details available from B4RN

who is going to sign up for a gigabit fibre to the home connection for £30 a month?
show of hands for b4rn at the wray meeting
We all are...

Listen to internet radio with cjspeaks on Blog Talk Radio When all else fails, do it yourself. This pretty much sums up the popularity and the effectiveness of community cooperatives (co-ops) in bringing broadband to rural and small-town America. Communities that big incumbents have ignored are getting what they want when local businesses and other stakeholders band together.

Wally Bowen, founder and executive director of the very successful Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) in Asheville, N.C., is a huge fan of co-ops. He shares with listeners secrets to MAIN's success, and explains the basics for forming a co-op in your community. 

2012 could be the year of the broadband co-op. Check out this interview! Listen, learn, do. 

Please find answers to common questions about this project here, and more still on FAQ page.