Geo Networks and B4RN bring world class broadband to rural UK

Geo Networks Ltd announced a ground-breaking project with Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN, pronounced barn), a not-for-profit, community-led organisation. Geo will support B4RN in delivering world class internet services to rural areas, like the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley, in Lancashire. The effort will see Geo provide vital dark fibre which will link B4RN’s local distribution network to a national peering centre at Manchester Telecity, enabling superfast internet speeds of 1 Gigabit for homes and businesses in the Lancashire region.

B4RN was created to bring superfast broadband to the deepest rural parts of the UK; specifically the last 10% – the areas which are unable to benefit from current Government broadband schemes. With the first phase of the roll out scheduled for the beginning of August this year, this project will eventually enable 2,500 properties, across 350 square kms in Lancashire to access broadband at speeds which are faster than most commercial ISPs can offer anywhere in the UK. Geo’s fibre link to Telecity ensures high capacity and high availability. It removes the bottle necks traditionally associated with shared service offerings to guarantee speed and efficiency of internet services to B4RN’s local distribution network.

Barry Forde, Chief Executive, B4RN said, “To ensure this project is viable we have to provide high bandwidth internet. In order to make this happen in a rural area we recognised that we needed to lease dark fibre. We did look at options from other providers but they aren’t viable for us as they can’t provide flexible capacity at a cost effective price. We chose Geo because it runs a first class, open-access network with an excellent reliability record. Leasing its fibre enables us to operate at a carrier level to bring superfast internet speeds to those in the remotest of areas. This will make a real difference to people’s quality of life.”

So far B4RN has not received any Government funding. An excellent example of ‘Big Society’ in action, the money for this £1.86 million project is being raised by the local community who have bought shares in the organisation or pledged support. The project currently has around half of the funding required to complete the planned roll out. In addition, the ‘last mile’ is delivered via trenches dug by the locals themselves. As a testament to the ingenuity of the project, B4RN was recognised by the Internet Service Providers Association, when it was selected as ‘Internet Hero’ of the year, a category which acknowledges organisations responsible for promoting, developing and defending the interests of the Internet industry each year.

Chris Smedley, Chief Executive at Geo said, “This is an extremely exciting project which will see some of the remotest parts of the UK enjoying broadband speeds unrivalled to most of the world’s leading business cities. Leasing Geo’s dark fibre is a genuine, future-proof investment decision for the community, which will benefit from reliable and flexible high-capacity services. As such, we are ideally placed to support this community project and we are looking forward to the network going live.”

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