January 21, 2014
Manchester Central
Europe/London timezone

FTTH for the last 5%

Jan 21, 2014, 3:30 PM
Exchange Rooms 8, 9, 10 & 11 (Manchester Central)

Exchange Rooms 8, 9, 10 & 11

Manchester Central

Windmill Street, Manchester,M2 3GX


Prof. Barry Forde (B4RN)


B4RN is building an FTTH network in the deeply rural areas around the Lune Valley and forest of Bowland AONB. The area covers 420Km2 but contains only 3500 properties. The project will deliver PtP 1Gbs symmetrical to every property within the 23 parishes included in the scheme. With an average dig distance of >200m per property this would normally be considered totally uneconomic for any telecoms company to do yet alone at a monthly cost of £30 which is what B4RN charges. However B4RN has adopted two techniques to make it possible. Firstly the fibre is laid cross country across private land with the land owners granting free wayleaves. Narrow bore 16mm duct is used with mini fibre cables then blown in using 15bar compressors. Counts of up to 192f are being installed with blow distances of up to 2Km achieved. Secondly the funding is coming from within the community via a shares issue by B4RN inviting people to invest in the project. Investment can be via cash or sweat with those having the cash opting to put money in whilst those with the time and ability invest their sweat digging ducts and installing the network components.


Unlike other community projects B4RN is not only generating the funds to build the network but actually getting the people who live in the area to do all the work. This includes not only duct installation but fibre deployment and splicing.

As well as the local access issues the project was clear that external connectivity had to match up. We have leased dark fibre to Telecity Manchester and deployed DWDM on it enabling us to run multiple 10Gbs wavelengths for both internet transit and peering.
The presentation will look at how this has been made possible and what progress has been made.

How can FTTH be deployed in deeply rural areas given the high costs traditionally associated with long digs. This paper looks at one FTTH project delivered by a community co-operative.

Primary author

Prof. Barry Forde (B4RN)

Presentation materials