A handful of questions come up quite often, so we’ll try to answer some here:
Q: How will we cross the A6, M6, canal and West Coast Railway Line?
Multiple routes have been carefully planned, making use of bridges, farm underpasses and culverts to cleverly cross these obstacles without needing to involve the likes of Network Rail. This stage of planning is almost complete.
Q: How will the fibre cross the fields?
We plan to use a variety of methods – by hand and machine – the fastest way is to use a mole plough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b36kBRs5XnE
Q: How will the fibre cross roads?
We’ll use specialist contractors, who will either make a narrow cut in the tarmac to run the fibre through, or ideally use a Directional Drill (very clever!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03hP3ZZaWxU#t=35
Crossing roads like this is expensive whilst fibre ducting is cheap, so if possible we plan slightly longer routes that avoid crossing roads and make use of culverts etc.
Q: What about the limestone under the ground?
The limestone sits at varying depths under the soft ground. There are many ways to tackle the challenge:
- We have a geologist on the B4YS team. We can use LIDAR maps – http://goo.gl/wBKlfj – to help us navigate the clints and grikes so the ducting can be burried in the soft stuff.
- We have a pipe-laying contractor who laid the gas mains in Silverdale. He knows the land (and the limestone) well.
- The fibre ducting doesn’t have to go in the ground, it just needs to be protected. Rather than a standard 18” depth, we have options to:
- Run the ducting at a shallower depth, and top it with paving stones for protection from spades etc.
- Run the ducting over land in steel or plastic pipe clipped to a wall or fence.
- Run the ducting overhead, using telegraph poles.
- As a last resort if we have to (and where we can do), there’s the rock trencher. These come in all sizes, big and small. We might not need the big one!
Q: Will there be a definite start date for digging?
There probably won’t be a definite date for anything. Amongst other unknowns this is a project run by volunteers, dependent on things like convenience to landowners, the weather, contractor availability etc., so it’s going to be quite fluid. We probably won’t know when digging can start until the week before when everything slots into place.
Q: When will you be coming to my house?
Good question. With so many variables and a volunteer workforce it’s difficult to say. We aim to begin digging in Yealand this year, then to Silverdale & Storth in spring. We will be connecting properties throughout 2015. Watch this space for updates!
Q: Can my property/farm/business be connected?
Yes. Every property that wishes to be connected, will be connected.
Q: What is the cost for a B4RN connection?
It’s £30/month. There’s a one-off connection fee of £150 to cover the cost of the engineer visit and modem. The connection is 1,000Mbps upload & download, and is unlimited in terms of data transfer.
Q: Will you dig up my garden?
As a community project it will be the community that lay the fibre ducting. This may be you, your neighbour, or a contractor if you choose to employ one. No digging will be done without consultation and remember, the fibre doesn’t necessarily need to go into the ground. It can be clipped to a wall or fence inside a pipe, slipped between paving flags. There are many options; the orange fibre duct to your property will be thinner than your little finger.
Q: Will I have to change my email address when I move to B4RN?
If you use an email address from your ISP you may lose this when you stop paying them (do check before you cancel it) but that’s true when you switch to any new provider. We suggest you register with one of the free web based services such as Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook Live (see http://free-email-services-review.toptenreviews.com). These can be configured to run with the email client on your computer (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird) or can accessed through the web.
Please make sure you notify B4RN & B4YS if you change email address, or notifications will be sent to your old one.
Q: Will I need my BT line?
A B4RN connection means you won’t need a BT telephone line. You can save money on both your line rental and your call charges by using a service such as Vonage. Vonage are a VOIP provider; they route your calls over the internet. You can keep your existing telephone number, your current handset, and make calls in exactly the same way – they’re just cheaper!
Have a look at this video for more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ppcO03WBjM
Q: How can I help the project?
We need volunteers for all sorts – organising, canvassing, route planning, digging, technical etc. – so please let us know how you can help. We are building up our contacts list for future use, and will be contacting people from it as & when we need.
Fill out the form below to tell us how you can help. If you have a digger or can pull a mole plough, you have just become our new best friend!: http://www.b4ys.org.uk/how-do-i-get-it/offer-help/
Q: Can I still invest?
Yes absolutely, download a share form and return it with your cheque to your local coordinator: http://www.b4ys.org.uk/how-do-i-get-it/invest-shares/
Q: We presently use a router from BT to get internet service. Will we need a new router and will this be provided by B4RN? Costs or part of the installation?
B4RN will install their own equipment on an inside wall of your home. This is the equivalent of your current router and has WiFi and wired connections. This is supplied as part of the £150 installation fee when you take service. (i.e. not extra).
Q: If B4RN provide a new router will it be wireless and what sort of range will it have?
Comparable Wi-Fi performance to modern routers from the likes of BT, Sky, Talk Talk etc. Some customers have reported that the WiFi may be slightly weaker than the latest BT Home Hub, but it is a lot faster than the home hub.
Q: Where will the router be located in our house?
It can be mounted wherever you want it in the house. Ideally, it would want to be somewhere central so that the Wi-Fi can be used to maximum effect. However, where it goes will largely be subject to limiting the disruption at the property, i.e. it is easier to run duct through lawn & flower beds than tarmac & concrete. Just like any other company like BT or Sky, B4RN volunteers would find a convenient location and anything beyond that (for example internal routing under floors, through lofts etc. to a more ideal location) would be down to the householder. The router needs power, so will need to be mounted within 1m of a socket. It can also be useful to have a telephone socket nearby so you can more easily change your entire home phone circuit onto VoIP.
Q: Can we have the router located close to where we use our computer to provide wired connection?
Yes, subject to the answer above.
Q: Do we have to continue to pay line rental to BT (or similar)?
No, you can choose to cease your landline entirely if you wish. However, it is important to understand that if you currently have a landline with a wired telephone connected to it, then you will currently be able to use it to make a telephone call in the event of a power loss to your property. Your internet connection on the other hand is not usuable in the event of a power cut (unless you invested in a UPS to keep the router powered), which means that any telephone service that makes use of the internet connection would not be available. If you own a mobile phone, this is probably not a concern as your mobile can be used to make an emergency telephone call if required. However, if you don’t own a mobile phone, don’t want a mobile phone and do wish to be able to make a phone call in the case of a power cut, then you may wish to retain your landline.
T1. How can our TV make use of our B4RN internet connection?
Most modern smart TVs are able to stream video from many services via the internet, e.g. BBC iPlayer, ITVPlayer, Netflix etc. If you don’t have a smart TV, a streaming internet player (e.g. YouView box or Sky’s NowTV box) will be required to perform the same function that is built into smart TVs.
Assuming you have suitable equipment, you should be able to access some streaming services like BBC iPlayer, ITVPlayer etc. for free. There are a plethora of services available and some (e.g. Netflix, Sky Go) will require a subscription.
Remember that B4RN provides your internet connection service only. It is not responsible for any TV, phone or indeed any service that you may purchase to utilise that internet connection. It is your responsibility to find appropriate services by, for example, reading about them on their websites and coming to your own decisions about what is best for you.
T2. Can we use our B4RN internet connection to watch live TV?
Yes and no. Most major channels do not stream live broadcasts to a smart TV or streaming internet player device. However, some of the major channels can be streamed to computers and tablets/devices. Presumably this is a legal/licensing issue that will be worked through in time, but may take some months or even years. So, for live TV, you should keep your current TV aerial/satellite dish setup until broadcasters catch up with the wonderful technology that B4RN will install!
Note that you should continue to pay for your TV licence. Watching over the internet does not create an exemption from needing a licence.
T3. Hypothetically if all the village switch to viewing TV via B4RN and all decide to watch England in the football World Cup final (it’s hypothetical!) at the same time, will B4RN become overloaded and unable to be used for TV?
No. There will be enough bandwidth out of the village for thousands of HD video streams. Furthermore, if more bandwidth is ever required, the inter-village links can easily be upgraded.
T4. If we choose to receive pay TV e.g. Sky via B4RN how do we do this?
See T1. Essentially, you need either a smart TV or additional device to receive the stream, plus a subscription. Sky have a service called Sky NowTV: http://www.nowtv.com/home2.
T5. Do we need a box or a contract with someone other than say Sky to receive this service? Costs involved?
You would need a Now TV Box which costs £9.99, plus subscription costs to Sky. See http://www.nowtv.com/box.
T6. Can we have an internet supply provided close to the TV for a wired supply?
You can run a network cable from the B4RN router to your TV. Alternatively, you can use Powerline networking to connect different parts of your house using electrical cables. These aren’t as fast as dedicated network cables, and the quality of the connection can depend on the wiring, but they can be an easier alternative.
Note that if you want to mount your B4RN router near the TV, be careful not to mount it right behind the TV because it will block some of the power of the WiFi signal. Similarly, you may need to consider thickness of walls, foil-lined plasterboard and insulated walls, all of which may attenuate the WiFi signal. If these sorts of issues do affect WiFi strength in your property, it is possible to install WiFi repeaters to boost the signal in areas of weak signal strength.
Note that whilst B4RN will be able to advise you further about this, as with current internet service providers e.g. BT, internal networking and WiFi remains the responsibility of the householder.
T7. Will this be a separate internet supply than that to a computer?
No, you will have one connection that serves all devices in your household. There are 4 network ports on the B4RN router. You could for example connect one to your computer, one to your TV, one to a games console and one to another device etc. Remember you also have the built in WiFi. If you have lots of computers and smart TVs at home, and you need more than 4 wired network connections, you can buy a Gigabit switch which will give you even more connections. Because B4RN is so fast you will find none of the connections feel slow even if lots of users in your house are busy online at the same time.
T8. What will be the cost for the supply of the above in house connections?
CAT6 or CAT5e network cable is inexpensive, for example:
T9. Can these be installed by B4RN or will we need to get an installer to do the internal work?
B4RN will not do this for you but they will advise you. Installing a network cable is analogous to running a telephone extension cable, which people would typically tack to skirting boards or run under the edge of the carpet. If you are looking for installation of network sockets in walls, then most electricians would be able to provide this service, although you may wish to consider buying a TV with WiFi built in as these are pretty much standard these days.
I1. B4RN will provide a cable duct to the boundary of our property. Will B4RN then dig up the route into my home and restore the garden/drive to what it was?
It is the householder’s responsibility to get the duct from the boundary of their property to their house wall. B4RN can only install this world class service at this price if each household helps, or finds friends/neighbours to help with the installation. No other company can install a service anything like this at anything like this price… householder help is part of what makes this achievable.
I2. Will B4RN agree the supply route through my garden to my house with me and provide a drawing of the route so it can be part of the house deeds for future owners?
Yes B4RN will advise on the route through your property but the duct route is the householder’s responsibility, as is recording the route. Photographs are a simple way of recording the route.
I3. When the duct reaches my property what sort of ‘box’ will be sited on the wall of my home? Will this be inside or outside?
On the outside will be a small box containing a gas lock that prevents gases entering the house e.g. methane or radon. These are not likely hazards, but B4RN is intent on minimising any risk to households.
I4. When the supply goes inside the house, where will it go to supply a ‘router’ if this is part of the installation. Will B4RN do this or do I need to get someone to run the supply for me?
The normal installation is for B4RN to take orange the duct that has been laid through the property grounds, change to black duct as it comes above ground (UV stabilised) and run it up the wall to the gas block pictured above. A small hole will be drilled through the wall and a white 5mm duct will be fed through the hole into the faceplate which is screwed to the wall
This is now ready for the fibre to be blown into the property, terminated and the “router” fitted over the backplate.
Fibre blown in to the back box in the house
Fibre fused in the box
The cover back on the box. Ready for the router when the customer wants service.
The router. This sits on top of the back box.
I5. We use BT for our broadband and telephone service. BT prices are increasing and as we are out of contract we could negotiate a better deal than at present but would then be on a 12 month contract with the supplier. Therefore an accurate estimate of when we can expect to get a service from B4RN is needed so we can decide whether to contract with a supplier for the next 12 months.
We will provide an estimate of when B4RN could be expected to provide service but this cannot be accurate because the time it takes depends on the following:
Agreeing routes with landowners.
Digging trenches. “Many hands make light work”. B4RN does not come to a village and provide the installation. The B4RN rollout is effected from within the community. All of us are part of that effort and the more people help the quicker it will be.
Raising enough money from the community.
The vital component is to ask for and have the installation. If this does not happen on the initial rollout at a cost of £150, then a later installation would cost more. Once this has been done, service at £30/month can be taken either immediately, deferred until existing contracts are completed or deferred indefinitely.