Broadband plan seeks investors

Barry Forde.
Barry Forde.
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A COMMUNITY initiative aims to bring high speed broadband to the most remote parts of the district.

Organisers of Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) say the scheme offers hope for around 1,300 rural farms and homes.

The scheme will serve the rural parishes of Over Wyresdale, Quernmore, Littledale, Roeburndale, Wray, Tatham, Wennington, Melling and Arkholme.

Led by Quernmore resident Barry Forde – who was responsible for bringing the CLEO computer network into schools in Lancashire and Cumbria – it will help local businesses, farmers and families who cannot currently access broadband.

It may even see doctors providing consultations via Skype, as well as helping keep rural jobs.

Mr Forde said: “Lancashire County Council has a project to address the issues of poor broadband in rural areas and has secured £30m of public funding.

“However, this will be spent on upgrading mainly urban areas to BT’s superfast broadband product rather than tackling the problems of the rural areas.

“Properties in the B4RN parishes will still be left in the slow lane with only basic 2Mb broadband or unsatisfactory satellite links.”

B4RN’s plan involves laying new fibre optic cables to every property across the area.

Every property will be connected irrespective of how isolated they are, and will get a superfast 1Gb service for a £150 connection fee and £30 monthly charge.

Members of of the community who allow the cables to be laid across their land will be rewarded with shares in B4RN.

At the same time the community will be asked to buy shares for cash to buy the equipment and materials needed.

The total cost of the project is £1.86m and it will all have to come from the community.

See the Lancaster Guardian (22-09-11) for full story.