One of the best articles we’ve ever read about B4RN

The dig at Borwick

Victoria Turk has written one of the best articles we’ve ever read about B4RN, over at If ever you wanted a top-to-toe rundown of how B4RN works, here it is.

…Frustrated by the major internet service providers and failed attempts to get local government funding, they’re going it alone. They’re building their own fibre network—digging the routes, laying the fibre, splicing the wires—and it’s not just superfast but hyperfast, bringing broadband speeds of one gigabit per second to every home…

Read the full article below. It even has a picture of B4YS member Tim, right at the top:

B4RN in The Economist, over £1m in shares sold

B4RN and the inspiring Christine Conder were featured in The Economist recently, well worth a read.

It’s great to see that the B4RN project has sold shares worth more than £1m to buy ducts and cables for volunteers to install in our local parishes:

FUSION splicing is a technique network engineers use to string together optical fibres. It is not a skill that Christine Conder, a 60-year-old farmer’s wife, ever expected to learn. But with borrowed tools and a little training most people can pick up the basics. “It’s only like knitting,” she says.

For years Mrs Conder and her neighbours in the Lune Valley, in rural Lancashire, waited for telecoms firms to upgrade their sluggish internet connections. In 2011 they decided to do it for themselves. Their organisation, called Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN), has sold shares worth more than £1m ($1.7m) to buy ducts and cables for volunteers to install. Because younger residents are commonly busy with jobs and families, local pensioners have done much of the digging, says Mrs Conder: “Some are getting sixpacks for the first time in years.”

Read the rest of the article here:

B4RN shares, how do they work?

The material costs of building the B4RN network for our parishes will be met by selling shares in the broadband company, to members of the local community. This funds the ducting, fibre, cabinets etc. Share purchases are the way we will make our community network happen.

As a community benefit society, B4RN must operate for the benefit the rural community rather than its shareholders, so surplus funds are reinvested. B4RN shares are structured in such a way that there is no potential for capital gains, instead B4RN aims to pay a dividend return of 5% per annum from year 4 onward of share ownership.

For taxpayers, share purchases up to £20,000 are eligible for 30% EIS relief. Businesses (and those who don’t pay tax) should consider lending money to the project.

Looking at the returns on the B4RN shares:

  • Years 1, 2 & 3: A combined return of 30% is available to taxpayers via EIS. This amounts to an annual ROI of 16% gross for a higher rate taxpayer.
  • Years 4 and onwards: B4RN proposes to pay interest at a rate of 5% per annum.
  • Years 4 and onwards: Subject to available funds, investors can cash in their shares by selling them back to B4RN for their original value. B4RN aims to have repaid all shareholders in 10 years’ time:

“A very conservative 50% take up gives 1600 connections yielding £480K/pa, which will allow for core costs and staffing and leave £180Ka to pay dividends and cover withdrawals. So far, our take up rate on the first routes built is in excess of 65% with some routes hitting over 90%. We are therefore very confident that a much higher take up rate than the 50% used for budgetary purposes will be achieved and we will have sufficient income to pay down the shareholders in 10 years.”

You could think of the share purchase as if it were a loan to the community company, in return for an interest payment. The returns are many times better than that in a high street bank savings account, and whilst they won’t buy you a yacht, they will buy your community one of the fastest fibre broadband connections in the world!

B4RN has raised over £1m in shares through Lancashire to date. The model works and has provided hyperfast connections in Wray, Quernmore, Abbeystead, Arkholme, Dolphinholme, Docker & Gressingham.

Before investing in shares, you should find out more about B4RN below, and then download the share application form relating to your B4YS parish:

B4YS have reproduced a localised copy of the B4RN share form. If you wish to invest for the benefit of the Yealands, Silverdale or Storth, please use the B4YS form and return it to your local parish representative. This means we can monitor support for each parish and keep you informed. Unless you wish otherwise, B4YS will securely hold onto your forms & cheques until your parish is ready to proceed. This means that in the unlikely event that the project does not go ahead, your cheques can be returned.

You won’t need to buy shares to receive a B4RN connection, but network will be built sooner if more people invest.

Aughton: Help a neighbour, learn about B4RN

Many have expressed an interest in getting up close and personal to the digging & duct laying may be interested in helping out our neighbouring parishes. Aughton, who have already bought their fibre, are presently engaged in the spade and shovel work.

The Aughton working party would be interested in help from anyone with time and energy to spare, and would maybe be willing to return the favour when our time comes. You can contact them here:

It’s a great opportunity to see what will happen once we’ve bought our fibre for B4YS.