Rathmell and Wigglesworth community broadband project

July 2019 update

B4RN‘s Gigabit broadband is now live in first homes and businesses in Rathmell! 

For more details on network progress, rollout, and local investment, visit the project website rwbb.org.uk or follow the project facebook page at facebook.com/rwgbb/

Project background

Residents in Rathmell and Wigglesworth (and the parts of Giggleswick that lie to the west of the A65) joined together in 2015/6 to investigate ways of getting fast broadband into the villages.

Our area was sadly not part of Superfast North Yorkshire’s Phase 1 or Phase 2 schemes, and at the time, no guarantee could be given that there would be a Phase 3, or that we’d be covered by it. But there was sufficient need, interest and willing among residents and local businesses for a community project to be started, initially aimed at finding possible ways for us to bring fast internet to the villages ourselves.

Led by Roger Vincent in Rathmell, and David Clarke in Wigglesworth, research was started into what other local communities had done, and after a very encouraging chat with residents from Lawkland and Austwick who were in the final stages of connecting to Broadband for the Rural North’s network, an open meeting was held for Rathmell and Wigglesworth neighbours, at which it was decided that we’d approach both BT Openreach and B4RN in order to get estimates of cost and timing, and to see if we could raise enough investment ourselves to fund the fibre-optic network to cover our area.

With both estimates in hand for comparison, it was decided at another village meeting that B4RN’s Fibre-To-The-Home network was better suited to our villages, primarily because of the significantly more future-proof higher speed connection, but also because of B4RN’s business model, because of the empowerment and community-building aspect that B4RN’s self-dug network offered us, and because ongoing service costs for residents would be lower with B4RN than with “key competitors”. Also, our neighbouring villages of Lawkland and Eldroth were already successfully connected to B4RN, so we had a relatively convenient way of joining and extending the capillary system.

Roger led the project forward and began encouraging investment from residents, route planning and then gathering wayleaves from those under whose fields, land and gardens the fibre-optic cables would be running. We reached our first investment target of £50,000, and a site for the central cabinet was secured outside Rathmell Reading Room. Contractors and neighbours started the dig, and by the early Spring of 2019, the trunk route ducting between Lawkland (the LEWFA section of B4RN) and the Reading Room’s green cabinet was fully dug in, as were all the spurs to properties along the route into the village.

By June 2019, fibre-optic cable had been blown in to the duct and spliced by B4RN’s team, and by the end of June, the first few houses and businesses went live on B4RN!

There’s still much to be done – next steps are to dig to the rest of Rathmell village centre, and on out towards Wigglesworth. In all there are four main sections of route, covering increasingly remote properties in our area. Of course, as distances between properties grow, so do the costs of digging and materials, so we still need to raise more investment – locally and hopefully from government incentives aimed at helping rural communities such as ours to stay up to date with (or even, thanks to B4RN’s much-faster-than-anyone-else-and-even-better-than-NASA internet speeds, ahead of) the rest of the country!