Community-owned broadband pioneer, Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) has now successfully raised over £3 million on
the Triodos crowdfunding platform. The investment will help to expand its high-speed
fibre optic broadband network and tackle the problem of insufficient and slow
broadband, which is a significant issue in rural UK communities.
to increasing interest in the organisation and its work, the investment
opportunity will remain open over the rest of the summer. The additional
funding will enable B4RN to expand its network even further, to connect more
villages and communities waiting to join the network more quickly and ensure
rural areas need not be the poor relation when it comes to efficient broadband.
B4RN's profits are also reinvested back into
the community in a variety of ways, for example by providing internet to
schools in its network free of charge
capital raised will help businesses like The Traddock Hotel,
like Over Kellet Playgroup
and individuals like
Lesley Gee. Read their stories below and click here
for the B4RN offer
page. Please note that should you decide to invest in the B4RN bond issue, your
capital is at risk and your investment might not be readily realisable.
The Traddock Hotel
Nestled in the village of Austwick in the
Yorkshire Dales, The Traddock is a family-run twelve bedroomed 4-star hotel.
Guests come from across the UK, Europe and further afield to enjoy the hotel’s
comforts and the countryside which boasts excellent mountain biking and hiking
Due to its rural location the hotel struggled
to get high-speed broadband from any mainstream internet service provider and
suffered from inefficient broadband for many years.
and more of its business required good broadband as 90% of room bookings come
through the website and online booking engines. Keeping the information flowing
through the website and payment and bookings systems is vital to its success.
Any complaints from hotel guests were all focused on bad Wi-Fi, therefore, the
hotel’s owner Paul Reynolds was keen to make a change.
Paul was made aware of B4RN which was
providing full-fibre broadband to nearby villages. Paul along with other
village residents agreed to work together to bring B4RN to Austwick help raise
some of the capital to do so and support the excavation needed to install the
In March 2017, the Traddock Hotel, along with
the rest of the village was connected to the B4RN network. “It was amazing to
see the village get behind this project, clearly as frustrated as we were about
the only thing holding back our amazing location – the terrible broadband. We
provided refreshments and snacks to the amazing volunteers who helped connect
the hotel and the difference the full-fibre connection has made is phenomenal,”
B4RN has dramatically increased the broadband
speed and network capacity in the area. The hotel’s previous best Wi-Fi speed
was 2Mbps, now this is up to fifty times faster at 105Mbps (device dependant).
“The changes that high-speed broadband has made
to our business are incredible. Firstly, as almost all our business activities
are web-based it has made us much more efficient and fluid. The database we
used to spend two hours a day backing up now takes just four seconds.
due to the previous poor connection we had to invest heavily into our IT
infrastructure and host all our IT on site which was expense to install and
maintain. Now we can use the Cloud and have already saved over £2,500 a year in
costs. Our team can also work remotely if need be, such as our chefs who can FaceTime
or message their colleagues to work on their menus.
it is now part of the reason people (especially young professionals) choose to
stay at the hotel in the first place and has facilitated more repeat business
as people know they are getting the full package - a comfortable and relaxing
stay, plus fantastic broadband so they can easily stream a film in their room
or work remotely. Our customer satisfaction scores have increased as a result
and we’re delighted.”
hotel also never reaches its network capacity, even in peak season with every
guest on the Wi-Fi it remains consistent and robust.
Paul said: “We will always be grateful to
B4RN for removing the one negative aspect of our stunning location in the
Yorkshire Dales, which was a poor internet connection. Now we proudly boast
better broadband speeds than many London hotels and the difference it is making
to us as a business and to our guests is amazing.”
The Traddock Hotel in Austwick in the Yorkshire Dales
Over Kellet Village Hall is home to the Over
Kellet Playgroup, which provides day care for children from the age of two
until they start primary school.
The Playgroup provides a valuable local
resource. It has capacity for up to 30 children in its morning and afternoon
sessions, is managed by Jackie Hunter and has benefited from being connected to
the B4RN network. As the Playgroup is situated in the Village Hall it benefits
from using its free Wi-Fi. B4RN aims to provide a free connection to schools
and playgroups (wherever feasible) which are connected to its network.
Jackie explains: “It is an Ofsted requirement
that we track children’s progress. We
previously did this in a paper format making a learning journey for each
child. This used a lot of paper and took
time going to a shop and developing photos, which was also very costly. We have now moved away from the paper
learning journeys and are using a program on the iPad called Tapestry to record
children’s learning and development. The
internet connection we had was quite slow at uploading photos and videos. We changed over to B4RN and have a faster
internet connection and are saving staff time and money on materials.
our Playgroup is in a building that members of the public use, we needed an
internet connection that was very secure and only Playgroup staff could
access. The enhanced connection gives us
this peace of mind as internet security is a very high safeguarding priority
with Ofsted and the GDPR. We also allow
the children to use the iPads to play games and search for information.”
Children listen to a story at Over Kellet Playgroup
Lesley Gee is a retired professional from
Over Kellet, Lancashire. Her home and that of her elderly mother, who lives in
a lodge adjoining her property have been connected to the B4RN network since
Lesley, her husband and mother had previously
lived with very poor broadband, in the region of 1Mbps or less. This was on top
of intermittent mobile phone signal, which despite living just half a mile from
the centre of the village left the family feeling isolated at times.
She described the effect it had on her and
her wider family: “The poor connection had a significant effect on our ability
to take advantage of modern technology. We couldn’t install a Smart TV or use a
Fire Stick. FaceTime or Skype calls were intermittent at best and with family
living in different parts of the country this was really frustrating. If family
visited, the grandchildren couldn’t use the internet at the same time as there
just wasn’t the capacity and the internet would frequently drop off mid use.
Previously we weren’t able to install a phone line or broadband in my mother’s
lodge which was a concern in case there was ever a problem.”
After hearing about the full-fibre broadband
being installed by B4RN in nearby villages, Lesley’s local Parish Council
sought out more information about the organisation and arranged a meeting with
residents to gauge interest in joining the network.
After agreeing to join the network the
villagers formed a core group to manage the project and help dig the trenches
needed to lay the cables. Lesley volunteered to help with the planning and
administration, but also the digging. Very few of the houses are in a linear
route, so most of the digging over the past two years has been by hand.
“Over 60% of the 310 properties have now been
connected to the network and we are working hard to help connect the remain
40%. About twenty of us meet up about once or to twice a month on a Saturdays
and we work up until 3.30pm, most people stay all day, and some come and go. We
all stop for refreshments and lunch (which are free). We’ve only had to cancel
two meet ups in two years due to the weather so that’s pretty good going!” said
Lesley. “I wanted to get involved as I felt it was such a good community
project and wanted to do more in the village now, I am retired. It has forged
excellent community links and brings people together,” she added.
joining the network, Lesley reflects on how she, her husband and her mother
have benefitted from broadband up to 100Mbps on wireless and 900Mbps when
plugged into the router. She said: “It makes life in general much easier and as
technology develops, we will be well prepared to move with the times. It has
enabled my Mum to have her own phoneline, which has an SOS alarm and she now
has an iPad which she is learning to use for email, massaging and to read the
news. She likes to receive messages and
photos from the grandchildren and great grandchildren when they are at home and
away on holiday.”
Mobile phone calls can also be made using the
Wi-Fi, which means that Lesley can keep in contact with family and friends
without additional charges. All three of Lesley’s grandchildren have visited
since the house was connected to B4RN and they no longer complain about poor
broadband. “The connection has totally changed our use of technology. We have
found B4RN a superior service at a very competitive price and can’t recommend
having a B4RN fibre connection more highly. The project has also brought us
closer together as a village and it’s been lovely to achieve something like
this by working together.”
Lesley Gee outside her home in Lancashire