Farmer Rolls Out First Rural Broadband Fibre Network as Digital Britain Takes Too Long

On the hills high above Wennington in Lancashire the local community is taking its internet destiny into its own hands and is laying broadband fibre.

The Wennington/Wray communities were no hopers when it came to the provision of ADSL so in 2005 they were awarded a £25k grant by the North West Development Agency to roll out a 2Mbps symmetrical mesh wifi network. The initial 12 users charged themselves £25 a month which provided a kitty for further expansion of the network to 22 endpoints.

They are now at the point where the remaining 30 homes/businesses are out of reach of wifi and the only way to get connected is by using fibre.  The YouTube video, hot off the press this morning (thanks to Lindsey Annison for that), shows the first cable run being laid.

This is initially an experiment to get to understand the costs involved before deciding when to add more locations to the network.

The network is a huge boost to the quality of life in the community allowing workers to stay put instead of commuting as far afield as Manchester and Edinburgh.

It is clear from the numbers here where the issue surrounding Universal Service Obligations being discussed in the Digital Britain Report reside. That initial £25k served 12 users –  just over £2k each – which realistically can never hold down a business case based on £25 a month. Being generous that probably would result in £1,500 Gross Margin pa which will never repay the initial investment.

There are problems for the community in increasing the size of their 2Mbps backhaul. A 100Mbps link to Lancaster would cost £76k to install with a £64k pa ongoing cost. This is almost an order of magnitude higher than the same connectivity in large metropolitan areas that would also have many more users at the end of the line.

It ain’t going to happen without Government assistance and I believe that it is key to the economy for UKplc to provide this. Now is the time to make it happen.

Find out more on the Wray village website with thanks to cyberdoyle for the info and  Fibrestream, Lucidos and Optech Fibres who have helped with this initial fibre project.

Check out the promo video of the initial project here.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

  1. Wish such funding was available in the South! We are trying to do something similar but unlike NW Development Agency SEEDA have no cash to support us. The general assumption with much grant aid is that Central Southern and SE areas does not need it. In the case of rural fibre this is not true – the split is between urban and rural, not North and South. I hope and believe Digital Britain will address this problem – we shall soon know.

  2. whilst looking through the archives of your blog Tref I came across this article… and a year down the line digitalbritain has still not struck a bat to help the notspots. What a waste of time and money they are… time to get the diggers out again.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.