Cable Maker Tratos Joins Broadband B4rnstorm

Independent cable maker Tratos Ltd has partnered rural broadband white knights B4RN, to bring super-fast connectivity to an isolated parish.

B4RN is a professionally designed fibre optic broadband network registered as a non-profit community benefit society, working in Cumbria.  Run by a dedicated local team with support from area landowners and volunteers, it focuses its efforts on offering 1,000Mbs (1Gb) FTTH (Fibre To The Home) broadband to every property in its area for just £30 a month for householders.

B4RN brought connectivity to Old Hutton, Kendal, and it now offers a fibre connection to any subscribers in the area – homes, schools and businesses.

Tratos, who was delighted to take part in the installation, has been campaigning to unlock the monopoly, remove the dominance of old copper networks and allow access to a free trade economy. This it believes will make room for more nimble suppliers.

This latest fibre optics cable installation, offering a 1Gb download, is up and running and working well.

The UK based global cable maker, which has manufacturing facilities in Knowsley, Merseyside, has spent considerable time and effort exposing the myth of superfast fibre to the home, when the reality in most cases is that fibre only goes as far as each conurbation’s roadside cabinet.  Slower copper infrastructure, that connects cabinet to consumers, has long produced broadband bottlenecks.

This installation saw a large section (2,000m) of 288 core Tratos Fibre Optic Cable Microbundle Cable of just 7.2mm diameter blown into ducting in the vicinity of  Old Hutton.

The team completed the installation in a morning, having previously carried out cable trenching, upgrading the property’s download speed from its previous crawl to hyper-fast.

Overall progress was rapid for this first partner-working project for B4RN and Tratos.  First connections were quickly in place with further phases of connection scheduled to be delivered as part of the ongoing project.  Several hundred homes and businesses are likely to come online as fast as, working with B4RN’s volunteer workforce, service ducts can be installed and the fibre blown.

Broadband for the Rural North Ltd or ‘B4RN’ was launched in December 2011 by a local volunteer group led by industry expert Barry Forde.  Registered as a community benefit society with the FSA (under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965) it can never be bought by a commercial operator and its profits can only be distributed to the community.

The company’s initial share offering raised hundreds of thousands of pounds from the local community and the first ground was broken in March 2012. Within months B4RN’s affordable, community focused model won it the Internet Service Providers Association’s ‘Internet Hero’ award.

B4RN now has more than 3,270 connected properties.

B4RN’s 1000Mbps (1Gbps) standard gigabit service is hundreds of times faster than its average competitor.  Practically it means that every member of a household or business can use fast broadband simultaneously.

Tratos’ own White Paper, Britain’s Broken Broadband, pointed to the risks the UK runs as its woeful broadband speeds gives it a significant competitive disadvantage.  It went on to examine how developing economies were benefiting from greater speed as they were not tied by crumbling long-term copper infrastructure.  The disadvantages, said the Tratos paper, encompassed education, business and the public sector.  

The installation team was joined by industry expert John Marson (Vice Chairman and Commercial Director at Fibre Optic Industry Association Ltd) and Tratos’ UK Director John Light.  John Light commented:  “As a not for profit B4RN relies on working with local landowners for free wayleaves access and the work of teams of volunteers who are not prepared to put up with second best.  B4RN is trusted and it works.  We were proud to be involved.”

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