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Group aims to raise £3m to roll out broadband in rural areas

Author: FarmingUK Published: 4th March 2019 07:14

 Rural East Anglia

Group aims to raise £3m to roll out broadband in rural areas

A community-led initiative which brings superfast broadband to rural communities is aiming to raise £3 million through investment crowdfunding.

Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) delivers fibre optic broadband connection in the UK to over 5,000 rural homes, farming businesses and schools in the North West and more recently in East Anglia.

According to Ofcom, 1.1 million (4%) of premises in the UK cannot get ‘decent' broadband and almost two-thirds of premises in rural areas are without superfast broadband coverage.

Only 16 percent of farmers have access to superfast broadband, the NFU's latest broadband survey shows.
Despite a slight improvement in access, the survey highlights a need for better coverage to support farmers and their businesses.

Initiatives like B4RN aim to change this. The project is now looking to raise £3 million to fund the roll-out of its fibre network in more rural communities - the aim being to quadruple its network in the next five years.

Reinvested profits

As a social project its profits are reinvested back into the rural community. For example, it provides internet service to schools free of charge.

The organisation installs cables at a significantly reduced cost by working directly with local farmers and landowners, gaining access across their land rather than digging up roads.

Such projects benefit from the government's Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which contributes to the installation costs of gigabit-capable broadband connections.

The bond will pay 4.5% gross interest per year for its seven-year term and the minimum investment is £50.
'Everyday problem'

Barry Forde, chief executive of B4RN, said the issue of a lack of decent broadband in rural Britain is an 'everyday problem' for its residents and businesses.

"We have overcome challenges the large providers were just simply unprepared to take on and by working as a community we have managed to bring the UK's fastest broadband to some of the UK's most rural areas.

"By crowdfunding we can connect more and more rural properties, which makes a huge difference to everyone living and working in those communities, and local schools benefit from free broadband," he said.

Some rural communities have taken matters into their own hands. Last year, a small village which long-suffered from inadequate broadband speeds is now benefiting from some of the fastest connections in the UK following the help of farmers and landowners.









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