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 .
Nationally, the government has a target of giving 85% of homes and businesses access to ‘gigabit capable’  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 . 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 . These companies also increase their prices by more than inflation every year . The B4RN community connected their first home in 2012 and the cost of their 1Gbps symmetrical  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 .
An opportunity that is too good to miss
We are lucky that we live in an area where government funding is available  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.