B4RN agreed to take on the Broadband for the Allen Valleys project
Multiple ducts often run together so the actual length of ducting installed is many times this figure
This is the number of properties with the core network within reach of them. Remember the last leg is up to you.
The number of properties that have installed and activated their connections.
B4RN are here! You may have seen the staff from B4RN about in the valleys recently. They're here to get us connected.
Initially they're installing the cabinets in Whitfield and Catton, and then they'll start blowing the fibre into our empty ducting. This will bring the Whitfield and Catton cabinets live first, with Allendale shortly behind it.
A summary of progress
After starting work in January this year, our contractors have installed 27km of the network, dropping off spurs to almost 160 property boundaries.
Our project is split into 4 areas, each surrounding a green cabinet. Every property will have a fibre from their nearest cabinet:
Allendale – The cabinet has been installed at the Primary School and will be the first one to go live. We’ve installed most of the core for the two routes surrounding the village, and volunteers are busy connecting properties on these sections. The 3rd route which feeds the village centre still needs to be finalised, and work won’t begin until the under grounding of the electricity in the village in 2020.
Catton – We have submitted a planning application for a cabinet on the roadside near Half Acres, with a decision due in the new year. The core has been installed as far as Langley Dam to bring a connection from Zayo to Allendale as quickly as possible. Once this is live we’ll focus on the properties that we’ve passed on this route.
Whitfield – A planning application has been submitted for the cabinet outside the Estate Office next to the Parish Hall, with a decision due in the new year. We’re busy installing the core network between Catton and Whitfield (and also to Zayo). Once this is live we will connect the properties we’ve passed, and then expand the network from Whitfield’s cabinet.
Allenheads – A cabinet is planned in Sparty Lea, and we’ve begun to install this. Connecting this to Allendale is our next priority as it’s one of our most supported routes in terms of registrations, and hence government funding.
Getting fibre into houses is a great achievement, but until we can make a connection to the outside world, it’s no use. This is something that we’ve been working towards the entire time that we’ve been digging but unfortunately the plans to do this have changed due to circumstances outside of our control.
When we started digging, the plan was to create a short term connection to Openreach’s fibre in Allendale, and then in the longer term, connect to the Zayo fibre which many of you will have seen being installed along the A686 from Penrith to Langley then to Hexham and beyond. This first Openreach connection was promised to go live at the end of July, but as the time approached, it was delayed by 4 months. At that point, we decided to drop Openreach, and fast track the connection to Zayo, which is why we’ve installed the route to Langley and are in the process of connecting to Whitfield: these will be our 2 connections to Zayo.
The second delay to the scheme has been getting the wayleaves from the large landowners, but these have all been agreed now.
We’re confident that we can lay the duct to complete the connections to Zayo by the end of the year, ready for B4RN to blow in the core fibre and then turn on our network in the new year.
Connecting the West Allen
As we type, we’re installing the link between the Whitfield and Catton cabinets (which in turn links to Allendale). This route through Old Town, Wide Eals and Burnlaw forms a key part of the network, and once installed, means that we can begin to grow the network in the West Allen, outwards from the Whitfield cabinet.
Registrations and vouchers explained
You might have seen messages in your emails or on facebook about the registration process which has changed since we started the project. The changes have proved to be confusing, but sadly if we’re to access the government funding we need, then we have some hoops to jump through. Here’s a clarification on registrations:
• For the first 18+ months of this project, we asked you to simply register your interest (but not commit to anything).
• Since the summer of 2019, we stopped taking expressions of interest and all new registrations were made directly with B4RN.
• It wasn’t possible to pass on our expressions of interest to B4RN, so everyone has been asked to re-register with B4RN.
• We have emailed all those of you that haven’t done this: you need to re-register if you haven’t already.
Register now at www.b4av.org
Vouchers and funding:
The government voucher scheme has changed since we were first accepted onto it. In short, for each business we connect we can claim up to £3,500 against the cost of that connection, and for each residence we connect we can claim up to £1,500. B4RN are currently offering a cash grant to each connection to facilitate getting the connection across your land and into your building (£150) paid for from this funding.
This funding is crucial to the project, and as such we still need to increase registrations in all areas in order to secure the money for our project. During the registration process, when a voucher is issued, you have to confirm that you’ll get a connection from B4RN in the next 12 months, but as these can be renewed, B4RN would rather we all register now, and then they can renew the vouchers that are unclaimed within the 12 month window.
A Hexham Courant article by James Robinson.
The first phase of a project to bring hyperfast broadband to the Allen Valleys is nearing completion. The ambitious £1,500,000 project was launched by community group Broadband 4 the Allen Valleys (B4AV) in 2017, in a bid to improve internet connections for 1,600 households and businesses. Now, 15 km of duct for the broadband, which will have internet speeds of up to 1GB, have been laid, and the first 150 properties will be able to be connected.
“Things have been happening. We’ve laid more kilometres of ducting now and we should get the first cohort of people to go live in June. We’re finally seeing the fruits of it. It’s a good start. As we go through the summer we’ll connect more people. We have about 1,600 properties in the valleys and we’ve passed the 500 mark for people that have registered. We’re not just talking about it, we’re doing it.”
Mike Robinson, Project lead
Residents will pay a one-off connection fee, followed by a £30 monthly fee. However, changes to the government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme means that B4AV are now offering anyone connecting to the network a cash grant, worth £150.
“We’re desperate for people to apply to the voucher scheme. We get £2,500 per business and £500 for a residential property, so we get that and in return we’ll give them a cash grant which pays for their little bit of duct to the house. I’ve seen the internet speed demonstrated, and you can watch four or five streams at once. You just switch it on and it’s there, there’s no buffering. It’s a brave new world.”
Mike Robinson, Project lead
The Gigabyte Voucher Scheme was set up by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport to help with the costs of bringing hyper-fast broadband to homes and businesses.
If your in the Allen Valleys register now at www.b4av.org and if you are in the first phase contact us to arrange your house install kit email email@example.com
If you’re new to the project, here’s what you can do to get connected:
1. Sign up
If we don’t know about you we can’t connect you. You simply need to sign up for the service at www.b4av.org and then you’ll start to get emails from us with regular project updates and we’ll let you know when the network is in your area. Also B4RN are parent organisation we will submit you for the Gigabit Voucher Scheme. This will help fund the network build and give you a cash grant of at least £150.
The community project organises the installation of the core network around the valleys. At the same time your individual spur will be installed to your property boundary (usually your garden wall or fence). We’ll do our best to speak to you about where you want this to arrive at your property.
The next part is over to you. We’re each responsible for installing the last part to connect our properties. We’re only installing empty plastic pipe, trained volunteers will come along later to blow the fibre through. The first part of this is planning where it can be installed across the garden and which wall of the house you want to end up at.
Contact the home installation team with any questions and to order your materials: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once the home install team have agreed your plan, then we’d like you to be installing the section across your garden too, so that there’s no delay in getting you connected. You can install this yourself, or pay someone to do it (remember your grant from the voucher scheme can be used for this). All the materials are supplied
This project could total £1.5M if everyone wants a connection. Our primary source of funding has been community investment. We had to raise £100k to initiate the project, now we’ve almost doubled that. Since then we’ve been accepted onto the government’s gigabit voucher scheme which could cover up to half the costs of the project, still leaving us with a large funding gap.
Community investment can be ringfenced at B4RN for our project area, and currently returns 5%. For anyone investing £1,500 or more the £150 connection fee will be waived. Read more about investment here.
We’re entirely run by volunteers. We use B4RN staff to keep us on track and ensure we’re building a professional fibre network, but at a local level we’re all volunteers and we’re always looking for help. Here’s a summary of the volunteers we’ve got working on the project to date:
The core team of 6 oversee every aspect of the project management
Over 20 community champions have spent a year negotiating wayleaves to install the network, and encouraging registrations in their areas.
The dig coordinators oversee the contractors installing the network
The home installation team are gearing up to help people plan the route through their gardens.
The Splicing and Blowing team are local volunteers who receive professional training to blow fibre to the houses and and complete the final splicing of digital router.
The funding team are working hard to plug the funding gap
Many people turn up for our community digs to tackle tricky bits of the route that machinery can’t do
We’ve had volunteers bake cakes, photocopy, deliver leaflets and many more things on top.
This network is built by the community, for the community. If you can spare the time to help out, please get in touch.
We’re delighted to report that thanks to the hard work of staff at B4RN, our entire project area has been accepted onto the government Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS).
What is the GBVS?
Gigabit vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable connection. For our project, B4RN can claim up to £2,500 against the cost of connection for a business, and up to £500 for a residence. This will help to plug the funding gap between the investment we’ve raised and total project cost, still leaving us with funds to raise.
“Being accepted onto the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is a huge achievement for the project. The funding is ring fenced for us for the next couple of years so we’ve really got our work cut out to make the most of it.”
Mike Robinson, B4AV Project Lead
Who gets the cash?
The money is to cover the cost of installation of fibre to each property. As the parent organisation that’s buying the materials and paying the contractors, the money will be paid directly to B4RN. We are however releasing a portion of this money as a grant to the householder or business owner for the installation that they’re responsible for across their own property.
Residential properties will receive £150
Business will receive £150 and no connection fee
All grants will be paid only when your connection goes live. The standard connection fee is £150, which is waived for investors of more than £1,500 and for businesses.
What counts as a business?
The business scheme is for SMEs. To check if you’re eligible please read this.
What do I need to do?
You simply need to register for our scheme. If you’ve registered in the past, then we’ll submit your details to B4RN for the voucher scheme, if you’re new to us, register on our website and this will initiate a voucher request.
If you’ve been to any of our meetings, seen our leaflets or read our emails you’ll have seen us use the tagline:
“Built by the community, for the community”
We say this because it’s true, and it neatly summarises what this whole project is about. This doesn’t just relate to volunteers digging trenches for the duct because we’re also going to use local contractors to speed up this process, but those contractors will be paid… by the community.
A year ago Dave Ryall came to a community meeting in Allendale Village Hall to explain how a B4RN style scheme could work in the Allen Valleys. In order for B4RN to take us seriously, we had to demonstrate that we could raise funds to kick off the process. Within weeks, local people had invested £100k in the scheme which meant that the project had begun.
With an estimated £1.5M project ahead of us, raising funds continues to be a priority for us. Investment continues to come in, even from outside the Allen Valleys because anyone can invest in B4RN, and choose for their investment to be ring fenced for our project.
Why would you invest?
To become a shareholder and voting member in B4RN
For every £1,500 invested you can claim a free connection which otherwise costs £150.
Interest is paid currently at 5% .
After year 3, you can sell your shares back to B4RN at the purchase price of £1 each,
You can invest between £100 and £100k.
Investment pays for the infrastructure we put in the ground.
How do you invest?
Please read the full details of B4RN’s invitation to subscribe for shares before investing. Once you’re ready to invest, you need to complete the share application form and send it directly to B4RN.
You can buy shares as an individual or as an organisation. Individuals fill in parts A, B and C of the application for, whereas organisations fill in parts D and E instead. In all cases please remember to name the “Allen Valleys” so that the money is put aside for our project.
If you’ve already invested, then please spread the word. More investment means we can roll this project out faster to all corners of the Allen Valleys. If you have any questions then do get in touch with any of the volunteers working on the project.
Last weekend saw the start of our community broadband project installation. The community came together in true Allen Valleys style to start our broadband network. Together we dug, measured, marked, labelled and laid duct as a community. Whether it was spades, mini diggers, tools, cakes, biscuits, tea or coffee, volunteers contributed what they could.
It’s been 2 years in the planning but we’re thrilled to finally have put spades in the ground. We’ve also received a huge amount of press interest appearing on BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Look North, ITV Tyne Tees, Hexham Courant and Hexham TV.
We’re now busy making plans to roll out the rest of the installation, to be kept informed of ways to get involved, sign up to our newsletter at: www.b4av.org
Today was a land mark day for the Allen Valleys. Work started on the Community Hyperspeed Broadband network to serve all of the Allen Valleys down to the A69.
A small team prepared for Saturday’s community dig day: building the base for the Allendale cabinet and installing the chamber, the hub where our network will spread out from. This will provide Allendale Primary School with a free 1,000 Mbps broadband. We will let the pictures tell the story and see you Saturday to fill in the gaps.
Be a part or history
We’ve reached a milestone: we’re about to install the first part of our fibre broadband network and you’re invited to join in. After over a year of planning, we’re ready to celebrate the start of installation, with a community dig day at Allendale Primary School. Come along and put one of the first spades in the ground and help the school become the first to receive the world’s fastest broadband.
Details for the day:
Date: Saturday 25th August
Venue: Allendale Primary School
Time: Meet at 09:30.
Parking: Please leave the parking at the school for the flower show guests.
Refreshments: We will have tea and coffee making facilities. Please bring your own lunch.
Toilets: The school building will be open for use of the toilets.
Celebration buffet: Thanks to the generosity of The Golden Lion all helpers are invited to a free celebration buffet at 16:30.
What to bring: Please dress appropriately for the activity and the weather. Bring a spade and gloves.
The School will host our Allendale cabinet which is a key part of our network. We’ve got over 400m of trenches to dig to branch out from the school site in 3 directions which we’ll do using a combination of hand digging, mini diggers and mole ploughs.
There will be a full Health and Safety briefing before we start, anyone arriving at the site after this time should report to our tent immediately on entering the site.
Built by the community, for the community doesn’t just mean digging.
We’re entirely volunteer run, and there are lots of ways to get involved, including organising digs, coordinating volunteers, managing spreadsheets, delivering leaflets, representing us at events and even baking!
Everyone is invited to share in this event, so even if you’re not able to dig, do drop in to see what we’re up to. Why not join us for a cuppa over lunch? (Cakes always welcome).
Sign up for the service or emails at our website
ARTICLE REPRODUCED FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES – NICHOLAS HELLEN
July 29 2018
The steam trains puff their way slowly across the Victorian viaducts of the Settle to Carlisle railway, but the hamlets dotted alongside the line enjoy the fastest broadband speeds in Britain. Villagers in the Yorkshire Dales and adjoining areas of Lancashire and Cumbria are driving a grassroots movement to connect some of the country’s most isolated areas to the internet at speeds of 20 times the national average. Volunteers have connected such tourist attractions as Ribblehead station and Ingleborough caves in the Dales national park. On Friday, William Dehany was hard at work laying more ﬁbre cables with a digger at Lowgill, a viaduct on the disused Ingleton branch line.
The government announced with great fanfare last week that rural areas should be connected to full ﬁbre broadband within 15 years but the villagers here are digging their own network rather than wait. Their community group started six years ago after Christine Conder, 64, a farmer’s wife, dug a trench to lay a cable between her property in Wray, Lancashire, and a neighbouring farm. Now their campaign is about to go national. Barry Forde, chief executive of B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North), said the group intended to connect 100,000 properties and sign up 50,000 subscribers within ﬁve years. It currently has about 5,000 subscribers. Even City Traders would envy the 1,000 Mbps download speed of the service, against a national average availability of 46.2Mbps, and 2OMbps, which Ofcom says meets the requirements of an average family. The monthly subscription of £30 has not risen since 2012.
At least 10 government ministers and top officials have made the 260-mile journey to B4RN’s Headquarters on the banks of the River Lune in Melling, Lancashire, said Forde, “Jeremy Hunt, Maria Miller, Sharon White [the chief executive of Ofcom] . . . every single one of them has come to visit us and has been gobsmacked by what we do and every single one of them has said, ‘What can we do to make this happen, to replicate it?’.
You then ﬁnd the bureaucracy of government stops it. You run into procurement rules and state aid rules. For example, if you start digging, you are not eligible for funding because it is deemed to prove that there isn’t a market failure. There doesn’t seem to be any way they can cut through the morass to find a way to actually help us.”
“Government and communities work to different timescales and mindsets. Communities are enthusiastic and want to get on. Government tries to ﬁt something into existing frameworks. “With communities, if you march them up to the top of the hill and then you march them down again, it is very difﬁcult to march them back up again.”
Jeremy Wright, the new culture secretary, raised the prospect of subsidies of between £3bn and £5bn to connect the ﬁnal tenth of the population to a ﬁbre network, but Forde will not be applying.
The community group keeps down costs by proceeding only if it ﬁrst persuades farmers and other landowners to allow it to bury cables under their ﬁelds without charge. Although it has 30 employees, it does not make proﬁts, relies on volunteers, and gives free broadband to schools, churches and community groups.
B4RN now intends to apply the same approach to 25 other groups from across England and Wales that have approached it for help.
They include villages near Diss in south Norfolk; villages to the east of Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Allendale, Northumberland, and there are also undisclosed ventures in the West Country and Wales, a sign that Britons want fast broadband quicker than the government seems able to provide it.
B4AV Community Broadband
The scheme is a community built broadband network for all the Allen Valleys from Coalcleugh and Allenheads to Whitefield and Langley, that anyone can join. There is a one-off installation charge of £150 and your monthly fee would of £30. If you purchase at least £1,500 in shares then your one-off connection fee is waived.
Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
Because of changes to the Government Gigabit Voucher Scheme we are now able to offer a cash grant to every property we connect. This is £150 plus a free connection to anyone who has a business at the address and £150 for each domestic property. This will be paid on completion of service delivery in conjunction with a signed 12 Month Service contract, and once DCMS have paid us the full value of the voucher. This can be used by the property owner to complete the final connection to the house. More information is available at https://b4rn.org.uk/b4rn-service/gbvs/
This system can provide landline telephone connection and in-the-home mobile phone connection, so your BT phone line rental can be dispensed with saving up to £18 for the line rental. The system will be built so it can connect every property within the Allen Valleys using optical fibre directly to each house, rather than using the telephone lines. Using fibre like this gives a much better, faster and much more reliable service. The broadband service you would receive would be the best available anywhere in the UK allowing you to watch television over the internet.
The scheme establishes viable routes and arranges wayleaves with the help of local landowners. We will then lay small 16mm ducts in each area either by trench or mole-ploughing. Fibre optic cable is then fed down these ducts in a process called ‘blowing and then a team connects the fibre to the router we supply in your property.
As well as a low-cost broadband connection there is an opportunity to invest in shares in the scheme, which are ring-fenced for our area. The shares are an investment, not only do they support the project for our community, but they have tax advantages and will pay a good return.
Minimum shareholding £100 / maximum £100,000.
All shareholders are members of B4RN. One member one vote.
Shares must be held for a minimum of 3 years.
From year 1, the interest of 5% per year is paid out or reinvested in shares.
Some shareholders choose to invest £1,500 and claim free connection worth £150.
Shares can only ever be sold back to B4RN at £1 each. Shares are bought for £1 and remain at £1.
After the initial investment is covered, profits the scheme generates will be used to finance community ventures. as we are a non-profit making organisation.
We’re also looking for help please contact your local community champion details can be found on our website www.B4AV.org
We hope to see you at one of our meetings around the area and please spread the word.
B4RN agreed to take on the Broadband for the Allen Valleys project
Community champions began the process of negotiating the route with landowners to reach every property.
First dig, at Allendale Primary School
Contractors start work installing the route around Allendale
East meets West - we've installed continuous ducting from Whitfield to Catton.