What has been happening?
The B4RN 4 H4LTON team consist of a small core of volunteers from the village and additional LBCs (Local Block Champions). We are all involved in trying to bring B4RN into Halton because we can see the benefits of having such a super service available to our community. A B4RN connection is a fraction of the cost when compared to offerings from larger telecommunications companies (should they ever decide to provide fibre to the home in Halton). We do this work in our spare time, and we try our best to accommodate all the requests and messages we receive every week. There is no hiding the fact that the project has moved slower than any of us anticipated. However, our core team, assisted by invaluable volunteers, have completed various projects in the village, including:
- Providing information days & public meetings to demonstrate the advantages of B4RN.
- We have installed the main communications cabinet by the skate park.
- Houses on Mill Lane have been connected to the B4RN service.
- Pulled several kilometres of ducting from the cabinet to the southside of High Rd.
- We have connected The Centre to the B4RN network by radio link to Wenning House.
- Attended training days to utilise the mapping systems of the OpenReach infrastructure to assist in the possibility of using existing ducting and telegraph poles in the village.
During this time we have also seen the Wrenman Homes development spring up to the east of Low Rd. Each Wrenman home has been connected exclusively to the B4RN network from the start.
A few obstacles.
The original B4RN cabinet for Halton (Mill) is situated at Wenning House. For those of you unfamiliar with the location of Wenning House, it is on the southside of the Storey Homes development by Halton Mill. The site of the original cabinet has been a big problem for the Halton project from the beginning. It is also the reason a radio link currently connects the B4RN service to The Centre from Wenning House, across what is now the Storey Homes development.
From the beginning, we have found it difficult to secure permission to cross the field that is splitting the two sites — stopping us from connecting the core route from Wenning House to The Centre. The original owner of the land sandwiched between didn’t want to jeopardise the sale to Storeys, and therefore would not grant us permission in the first instance. Our only option, therefore, was to wait for discussions with Storeys to begin, while investigating alternative routes to connect the two sites. We have also been waiting quite some time for the road crossing across High Rd, from the Old Smithy to Hi-Q garage. From here, we can get access to the school field and make progress into several other blocks. The delay here was also due in part to the issue of the core route. Quite sensibly, it made no sense to complete any significant infrastructure investment until we could be sure we could get the connection ‘live’.
The good news.
As of this week, we have verbal agreement from Storey Homes to take ducting across their site. Finally allowing the cabinet at The Centre to connect to Wenning House and subsequently receive a connection to the B4RN core route. The Centre can finally rid itself of the point-to-point wireless link, and more importantly, the blocks around the village will have a live cabinet into which they can connect. Last week the crossing on High Rd was completed. We can now lay ducting to St Wilfrids School, the library, and all the houses that back onto the school field. This is happening this Saturday (31/08/19) at 9:15 am, and all volunteers are welcome to come along and help.
The Local Block Champion for this section (17) has liaised with each householder in the block to organise their feed for future connection. Many of the households can’t wait to be connected. Others are future-proofing their property by taking the ducting into their garden, even though they may not want a connection immediately. This gives the occupants, present or future, the opportunity to change their mind with little hassle. Less than half a dozen houses, a tiny proportion of the properties in the block, did not want any provision at all.
When will I get a connection to B4RN?
The honest answer is this. It depends on how active you and your block are in bringing a connection to it. The B4RN provision is second to none in terms of speed, reliability and cost. The cost part of this is kept low by using volunteers to plan and install the infrastructure and services in their communities. Implementation in any other way would cost a lot more, and this is the trade-off. With B4RN your paying for the service, and not a host of overseas call centres, and account managers. It is the equivalent of shopping local for excellent quality.
If you want to get you block connected, please contact us to see what you have to do. It requires a bit of time and effort, but the task is not that difficult at all. We hold a meeting on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 @ The Centre for LBCs. All are welcome to attend.
Find information on your block and block champion here.
The main B4RN website can is here