Frequently asked questions

Installation

Where should I site the B4RN router?

The easiest location is on the other side of the wall from where the conduit enters the property. However, this might not always be the best location. You can place the router anywhere you want in the house provided that there is a power socket nearby and you can get the 5mm conduit from the entry point to the router.

The 5mm conduit is slightly more flexible than the external conduits but it can’t make tight bends. If you have a suspended floor you may be able to run it under the floor but do protect it from rodents.

It is not a good idea to place the router directly behind TV sets. The router has four ethernet ports on it so you can run ethernet cable to devices around the house.

How deep do I have to dig the conduit in my garden?

Ideally at least a spade’s depth so at least 300mm. At the end of the day common sense will prevail. You know where you’re laying it so you know it’s there. You’re trying to minimise damaging the conduit in future through digging, rotovating, aerating your lawn etc. I’m going to run my conduit through some alkathene water piping – the “belt & braces” approach!

I am not sure where the conduit should cross my garden to the house?

Try to get a route that is flat and straight. Also minimise difficult digging. Straight through lawns is ideal. Or start at the point you would like the B4RN to enter the property and work a route back towards where we enter your property boundary. Before you start planning, think about any possible extension you may build or garden remodelling you might undertake. Best to lay & leave and not have to dig it up to move it! Your local Block Champion can advise further.

Can we really bring the world’s fastest rural broadband to this village?

I wonder if everyone realises how advanced the technology is that we’re bringing to the village? It is beyond anything that is available and will future proof this village for years to come. With some enthusiasm and a bit of grit we most certainly can. If Caton Green, Claughton, Hornby, Melling, Quernmore, Aughton, Arkholme, Dolphinholme, Wennington can do it with 2500+ properties now connected then of course we can! If you’re relying on the big players to come up with something like this at this price then don’t hold your breath. And don’t forget, B4RN is a community project that gives back to the community.

I may struggle to dig through my garden due to my health or the terrain?

Have a chat with your block champion for advice, they can access advice from other teams who have experienced similar issues. Seek support from neighbours, you would be amazed how many engineers, utility workers, garden maintenance and landscape/garden maintenance contractors, farmers and ground workers live in our village. We are truly blessed with a brilliant range of skilled individuals who want to realise this project for everyone.

How can I help with the project?

Become a block champion for your neighbourhood. Start or join a digging team. Invest in B4RN to help fund this project. Support your neighbours with the project doing whatever you can. As Tesco say, “Every little helps.”

What happens if my neighbour won’t allow the conduit to pass through their garden to me?

In the first instance we’d hope that you and your “Block Champion” can resolve the issue. It may be your neighbours aren’t aware that this is a community project for the benefit of the whole community. B4RN are giving our schools and churches a free service. You’d be surprised at how much schools have been paying for their broadband! B4RN will also be putting money back into the community to fund local projects and causes. Your neighbours might also not be aware that we’re installing the world’s fastest rural broadband network that will future proof this village for years to come. This will benefit local businesses, people who work from home and our children who will be increasingly using the internet for their education. We really are installing a world class leading edge network in this village making it an even better place to live and work. They might not also realise that it will make their house more saleable. Do they know that the Rightmove website shows whether a property is on the B4RN network and shows the broadband speed a property is likely to receive? Broadband speed is an important equation in the house buying process for many people. They might not realise that we may not be able to provide a service to them if they change their minds later as we may well have bypassed their property.

In the event you reach an impasse, we’ll do our best to find an alternative route to you if we can.

Can I lay conduit above ground?

As long as you use the 7mm black UV safe conduit, yes. Conduit above ground is best clipped on solid walls rather than flimsy fences. You don’t really want the wind blowing your fence down and taking your conduit with it, We’ve seen the black UV safe conduit used to get the service along terraced cottages.

How do I get the conduit through paving and concrete paths?

With paving slabs with a decent sized joint, we’ve seen the joint ground out with an angle grinder, the 7mm conduit laid in the joint as deep as you can and the joint re-mortared. We’ve also seen a row of paving slabs lifted and the conduit dug in and the slabs relaid. We’ve seen a narrow groove ground out of concrete with an angle grinder, the conduit laid in and the groove mortared up. People get quite creative in solving these sort of problems.

The bottom line is that you need to find the best way of laying the conduit so it is safe from damage. The thing to remember is that you laid it, so you know where it is!

Remember, you can lay black UV safe conduit above ground (clipped to a wall maybe) as long as you’re sure it won’t get damaged. We would never recommend just laying conduit on the ground surface – anywhere!

I’m about to build an extension/landscape the garden/resurface the drive. Can I lay my conduit now?

YES! It’s best if you do. Speak to your local block champion who will advise on laying your conduit and the supply of materials.

How will the B4RN connection be brought across my garden/drive etc?

It is the householder’s responsibility to get the duct from the boundary of their property to their house wall. B4RN can only install this world class service at this price if each household helps, or finds friends/neighbours to help with the installation. Your gardener or local handy man might be able to assist. No other company can install a service anything like this at anything like this price. Householder help is part of what makes this achievable. B4RN will advise on the route through your property but the duct route is the householder’s responsibility, as is recording the route.

VOIP Telephony

What is VOIP?

VOIP is an acronym for “Voice over IP”. Rather than using the existing telephone network, your calls are transmitted in high quality over the internet. The main reason for switching to VOIP is, that once B4RN is installed, you can dispense with your landline and associated rental. Using a service such as Vonage makes it easy to use your existing telephone handset with your new B4RN broadband service. Read the other VOIP FAQ’s for more information.

Can I use my existing handset?

Only if you use a service such as Vonage as they provide a “black box” that fits between your existing handset and the B4RN router. Most other VOIP specific services such as Yay! or Sipgate would require VOIP specific handsets – of which there is a good choice online. You won’t find many in the shops.

Do local people in the same dialling area have to dial the STD code to call you?

No but if YOU are calling a local number you need to use the full national number even if you are making a local call (just as you do with your mobile phone).

Is Vonage a direct replacement for a BT telephone?

There are various solutions for VOIP telephony but Vonage provide a simple “plug and play” black box that connects to the B4RN router into which you plug your existing house phone. You can also port your existing phone number to Vonage. Making and receiving calls is just the same as you are used to with the exception that you do have to dial the STD code for a local number in the same way you would have to on a mobile phone.

Alternatives to Vonage rely on you purchasing a new VOIP handset and then using a service such as Yay! or Sipgate. The writer uses both services with VOIP specific phones and the quality of call is excellent.

What happens in a power cut?

In the event of a power cut then the B4RN router installed in your home will not work so neither will your VOIP telephony. Most people would resort to using a mobile phone in this instance. The good news is that B4RN are able to keep their network working in the event of a power cut so purchasing an “Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)” for your home would provide backup power for your router, phone and Vonage box. Generally speaking, the more you pay for a UPS, the longer they can maintain power.

Anyone who relies on the telephone due to medical conditions and the like should weigh up the best option for their needs.

Home networking

Will speed be restricted by my internal networking hardware?

Possibly! See the FAQ on Wi-Fi reception. The best solution, if you are able, would be to install a structured cabled network within the home. Ensure you use 1000Mbps network devices and you should get the best possible experience. You may need the help of a knowledgeable friend or expert to help with this. If you are building or remodelling your home, it would be worth considering installing a structured network.

Will Wi-Fi be better with B4RN?

Firstly, let’s separate out two issues – i) the B4RN service to your home ii) the wi-fi reception in your home. The reality is that Wi-Fi reception in your home is largely affected by where the router is placed and the structural components of your home. Things like foil backed insulation board and thick stone walls can affect your reception. The latest B4RN router (dual band) will likely be better than one you’ve had for 5 years or more but if you struggle with Wi-Fi reception now, you may struggle with Wi-Fi reception when you move to B4RN. This would be a good time to think about where the router is placed and possibly look at other solutions such as Wi-Fi extenders or even a wired or mixed network – ethernet cable to your smart TV for the best possible viewing experience, Wi-Fi for your portable devices. What we can say is that the incoming B4RN connection will not be the limiting factor. Moving to a different Internet Service Provider to improve your Wi-Fi reception is a false economy. Moving to B4RN to improve your broadband connection is a no brainer!

Investing in B4RN

How can I find out more about the share scheme?

The best place is at http://b4rn.catonvillage.org.uk/invest where you should find out all you need to know. If you are unsure about tying up your money or need clarificaton about the scheme then speak to a financial adviser. Remember, an investment of £1500 or more entitles you to a free connection!

How can I find out more about the loan scheme?

The share scheme should be attractive to tax payers but B4RN also provide a scheme where you can loan B4RN money for a fixed return. There are two loan schemes:

  1. Straight 5 year loan with the interest and capital repaid at the end of the term.
  2. A longer 10 year loan with the loan and interest paid on a monthly basis to clear the loan by the end of month 120

You will need to contact B4RN direct for more information about the loan scheme. Note that investing in the loan scheme does not entitle you to a free connection.

Can someone invest in B4RN if they live out of the area?

Absolutely. My parents who live in Oxford could invest. If they invest £1500 or more they are entitled to a free connection which they can nominate to me here in Brookhouse! Make sure they also nominate Brookhouse (or Caton if you live there) on the application form so YOUR area receives the funding.

Once you are live with B4RN

Who maintains the service?

B4RN are your first point of contact for any issues regarding your service. The beauty of the B4RN network is its simplicity and reliability. The most likely thing to go wrong is someone accidentally cutting through the underground fibre – that might even be you! B4RN employ real time monitoring of their network and will usually be aware of a problem before you are.

Will more users degrade the service?

The simple answer is no. This is an expertly designed and managed network. If bandwidth requirements do increase in years to come, B4RN are able to upgrade their equipment without having to upgrade the conduit and fibre buried in the ground.

I’ve dug through my conduit and fibre optic cable! Help!

Accidents happen and B4RN will generally take a pragmatic approach and come out quickly to fix the problem. If you’re a repeat offender you might expect a charge!