B4RN – Broadband For The Rural North

Heading to Lancaster and the launch of “B4RN”  an innovative project in bringing FTTH to the people, by the people.  This from their site

The purpose of the project is to take a new approach to the ownership, financial and deployment models used traditionally, and still proposed by, telecommunications companies. These models invariably leave rural areas outside of the scope of economic viability for the telecoms companies, and have helped to create the Digital Divide between rural and urban Britain.

The event was packed – standing room only and a lively audience with lots and lots of questions.  It seemed surprising to some local people there that there were so many “foreigners” there.  As a Yorkshireman, based in Kent, I am foreign in so many ways!  One distinguished-looking lady kept asking “Why are they here? What are they doing here?”  and someone else said (and you can see it on video) “The eyes of the world are on you!”.

It was a great event – the various politicos; Mayors etc seemed impressed and quite surprised at the strong turn-out.  A notable (and worrying) absence of Lancaster Council officers and County Council people; and no one from BDUK (though I’m sure they would have been welcome!).  You may speculate why they were not there…

Here’s a video of the Mayor cutting the cake!

I made an Audioboo in the event space immediately after the formal presentations finished, trying to capture some of the excitement in the room.  You can hear it in the  embed below.

I also spent a bit of time with Barry Forde – and was keen to get his take on what ‘demand ‘ means.  I also wanted to understand the dynamics of this project.

And there was massive interest afterwards in looking at the network plan…..

Here’s a liveblog, which went live at 0912 on 15th December, catching tweets with the #b4rn hashtag. I tried my best to use it for the launch but poor connectivity defeated me.