Better Broadband for East Ruston (BB4ER) was formed by a group of residents following a discussion about internet connectivity issues at the East Ruston Parish Council meeting held on 16th January 2017.
What We Have Learnt
- The results of the Parish survey told us that the majority of people who responded were unhappy with their broadband speed and reliability. This included some properties who have the benefit of being able to access a "fast" or "superfast" service.
- We have held meetings with the project manager from Better Broadband Norfolk (BDUK) and a regional director of BT. Future upgrades do not look promising for much of the village! 33% of the Parish are unlikely to receive any noticeable benefits as a result of these upgrades.
- We have found out that a number of communities have taken matters into their own hands and have successfully installed and are running their own community broadband network.
- The UK is falling way behind the rest of Europe in broadband speeds and the urban/rural divide for broadband speeds is only likely to become bigger.
- That the increased use of broadband technology through business, leisure and cloud storage activities over the next few years is likely to outrun any improvements BT/Openreach may have made to date or are proposing to make in the foreseeable future.
- That the government's plan to provide a 10Mbps connection for all is likely to fall well short of the every day demand of most households by the time it is delivered.
Reels of ducting ready to be placed in a trench
We are convinced that:
- There is little merit in continuing to lobby BT/Openreach about improving the service in the Parish;
- Our Parish, perhaps with our adjacent Parishes, needs to start a community benefit broadband initiative much like other UK communities have done;
- Our ambition is to achieve a world class service that will provide equal download and upload speeds of 1 Gigabit (1,000 Megabits) per second.
- Providing a network of Fibre to the Home (FTTH) (Sometimes known as FTTP or Fibre To The Property/Premises) is the only way this will be fit for future generations.
What We Are Doing
Since reaching our conclusions after making our initial survey, amongst other things, the members of the group are:
- Continuing to keep informed of, and informing, Government and other national agencies of the issues around the provision of rural broadband services.
- Meeting with County and District Councillors and their Officials to make them aware of our conclusions and to campaign for policies that do not hinder our work.
- Meeting with neighbouring parish councils to inform them of our plans and to seek their support and those of local people.
- Meeting with Business Consultancies and others to determine the best approach for the management and financing of the company to manage the network.
- Joining B4RN East Anglia as part of its management team in order to gain real practical experience of the initial stages of building a similar network to that we plan.
- Attending training courses, seminars and other events to to enable us to be ready to teach others the skills needed to install an optic fibre network.
- Visiting other schemes across the country and taking part in the practical work of necessary to install a fibre network.
- Negotiating with a range of potential suppliers of equipment and services necessary to complete our network and connect it to the Internet.
- Forming a Community Benefit Society, to manage a FTTH network within the village.
- Submitting grant applications to a range of bodies to help fund the start-up period of the Society.
- Developing attractive options for the investors that will be needed if the project is to succeed.
- Jane Leslie
- Back Lane (BB4ER Administration Manager)
- Greg Chapman
- Chapel Road
- Lesley Marsden
- South Fen
- Chris Marsden
- South Fen
- Michael Davey
- Regional Director - B4RN East Anglia (Volunteer)