Our Community Project

Delivering gigabit broadband to ever​ybody in our community

Project overview

what are we doing and why

Page Summary

We live in an area where there is a wide range in the speed of broadband available. There are some people who currently have access to ‘Superfast’ broadband while others are still limited to ADSL with connection speeds below 1Mbps. Nationally, there is a campaign to upgrade to ‘gigabit capable’ but our area is not included in the plans of any of the big for-profit companies such as BT Openreach or Virgin Media. Our community project aims to improve the broadband available to everybody in our community by bringing our community together to fund and build our own full fibre broadband network that will make available to everybody a 1Gbps symmetrical service that will meet all of our needs for the rest of this century. This project provides our community with an opportunity that will not be available forever and is too good to miss.

On this page:

What are we aiming for?

The Six Villages Hyperfast team is a small group of local volunteers who are working to improve the broadband provision for everybody in our community. Our aim is to make available to everybody fast and reliable broadband that is fit for the ever-increasing digital demands of the 21st century at a price that everybody can afford. To achieve this, we will bring our community together to build our own full-fibre broadband network that will give everybody access to a 1Gbps symmetrical connection at a cost of just £30 per month.

The Project Area

Our project includes the six villages of Mollington, Lea-by-Backford, Backford, Chorlton by Backford, Croughton and parts of Saughall, Little Stanney and Stoak. This region is bounded by some physical barriers that are difficult to cross which are Parkgate Road to the West, Dunkirk Way and Strawberry Way to the North, the M53 to the East and the Canal to the South. Within this region there are over 700 homes and businesses that could be connected to our network.

Why do we need to improve our broadband?

A number of different broadband technologies are used in different parts of our community:

  • ADSL – This is the oldest technology and involves only copper cables to connect homes to the exchange. It gives a maximum speed of 8Mbps for downloading. The speed decreases with distance from the cabinet so some people have speeds as low as 1Mbps.
  • ADSL2 – This is an upgraded version of ADSL and gives a maximum speed of 17Mbps for downloading. Again, the longer the phone line the lower the speed of the broadband.
  • FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet) – This uses fibre optic cables to carry data between the exchange and a green street cabinet. The connection from the cabinet to homes uses the old copper telephone cables. Again, the length of the copper telephone cables affects the speed. People living close a cabinet can get speeds up to 80Mbps while those who have very long, or degraded telephone lines can get speeds as low as 9Mbps.

People living in the centre of Mollington and Backford have access to FTTC and are close enough to a cabinet to get speeds ranging from about 40Mbps up to about 70Mbps [1].

Nationally, the government has a target of giving 85% of homes and businesses access to ‘gigabit capable’ [2] broadband by the end of 2025. Today 35% of homes have access to ‘gigabit capable’ broadband most because of an upgrade to Virgin Media’s hybrid fibre and cable network and some from the building of full-fibre networks (mostly by Openreach). Most of this development is taking place in towns and cities. Around us, there are some areas that are connected to Virgin’s network, Openreach is building full-fibre networks in areas on the Wirral, CityFibre is building a full-fibre network in Chester and the communities in Capenhurst and Puddington have built their own full-fibre networks as part of the B4RN community. Very soon, our community will be the only part of this area that does not have access to gigabit broadband.

Why build a full fibre broadband network?

A full fibre connection is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in broadband connections. This is because it is the most reliable, requires the least maintenance and has almost unlimited capacity for future upgrades in speed in comparison with other technologies [3]. Providing ‘gigabit capable’ broadband will require the building of new infrastructure in our area. By choosing to build a full fibre network we will only need to go through the disruption associated with the laying of the ducting once and that will provide all the broadband infrastructure we will need for the next 100 years.

Why build our own network?

By choosing to come together as a community to build our own full-fibre gigabit broadband network we can make sure that everybody is able to connect to the network and that the fastest broadband will be available at a price that everybody can afford.

Though parts of our area are quite densely populated like the centres of Mollington and Backford much is very sparsely populated making building a full-fibre broadband network here a difficult and expensive proposition. Virgin has already laid a fibre optic cable through our area, but they did not connect any properties to their network because they decided it would not be profitable enough. BT Openreach has laid optical fibres to the green street cabinets to connect Mollington and Backford to their FTTC network, but they decided it was too expensive to connect everybody in our area to that network. By building our own network we can make sure that everybody is able to connect to fast and reliable broadband.

Where for-profit companies such as BT are building a full-fibre network, they are expecting customers to pay more than they are paying now and significantly more if they want the fastest connection speed [4]. These companies also increase their prices by more than inflation every year [5]. The B4RN community connected their first home in 2012 and the cost of their 1Gbps symmetrical [6] service was £30 per month. The B4RN community has never increased the price of its service so it is still £30 per month today and they do not see any reason why they would need to increase the price in the future.

If we wait for the for-profit companies to improve our broadband, we may not get the improvement in all parts of our community and broadband speeds will vary from less than 100Mbps up to 1000Mbps depending on peoples’ ability to pay. Also, we will all be subject to annual price rises.

We may not need a 1Gbps symmetrical broadband connection at the moment, but, having it will mean that your broadband will be as reliable and available as water when you turn on a tap or electricity when you flick a switch. It will be another utility that you can take for granted and rely on. It will also future proof your internet connection. As our use of the internet increases the amount of data that we download, and upload is steadily increasing. Having a 1Gbps connection will mean that we do not have to consider upgrading our broadband for the next few decades.

Why build a full-fibre network now?

Many people in our community have broadband connections that are not good enough for the increasingly digital society in which we live so for them the need to upgrade is urgent.  For some people (particularly those living in the centre of Mollington and Backford) where their current FTTC broadband connection is fast enough to meet their current needs the package provided by the B4RN community is so good that they need to take advantage of it now while they can. No other option will provide us with the fastest broadband available anywhere in the country for just £30 per month with no annual price rises and no introductory offers [7].

An opportunity that is too good to miss

We are lucky that we live in an area where government funding is available [8] that will cover 90% of the cost of building our network. We are also lucky that we have the opportunity to join the B4RN community to build a world-class gigabit broadband network to give all of our community access to 1Gbps symmetrical broadband for £30 per month on a rolling 1-month contract that is not subject to annual price rises. This will give us the best broadband service available in the UK for the lowest price charged by any service provider.

Additional Notes:
  1. The UK average broadband download speed is now over 80Mbps and is increasing by about 10Mbps per year.
  2. The government uses the term ‘gigabit capable’ rather than ‘gigabit’. This is because the technology that is being installed is able to deliver download speed of 1Gbps but the prices that most companies charge for their broadband packages delivered over the ‘gigabit capable’ networks will mean that most people will choose much slower packages because of the high cost of a 1Gbps connection.

  3. The B4RN community already offer a 10Gbps service using the same optical fibres as the 1Gbps service.

  4. BT charge £59.99 a month for 24 months (£67.99 thereafter) for their gigabit service.
  5. BT’s website includes the details of their policy of increasing prices annually by 3.9% plus inflation. Most other providers so something similar.
  6. 1Gbps symmetrical means 1000Mbps for downloading and 1000Mbps for uploading.

  7. Some companies are offering amazing introductory offers including up to a year of free service but sooner or later they will need to charge enough to make a profit.

  8. Government funding can be accessed by members of our community applying for Gigabit Vouchers. Each voucher will contribute up to £1500 (or up to £3500 if the application is for a small business). We need more than 385 voucher applications to raise the funds we need.