Frequently asked questions

Registering

How much does B4RN cost?

The service is currently £30 per month for residential properties and micro businesses. There is a £150 one off connection fee. The connection fee is waived if you invest £1500 or more or if you are a business that has successfully applied for DCMS voucher funding.

A dig grant of £150 is payable once you are live and paying for your B4RN service and have responded to a final email from DCMS.

Current charges are available here – b4rn.org.uk/b4rn-service/charges

What is the dig grant?

Provided you have succesfully registered for the DCMS voucher scheme, a dig grant of £150 will be paid to you to help cover any costs incurred in digging in your duct from the pavement to your house. It is paid once you are live with B4RN, have responded to a final email from DCMS and have started paying for your B4RN service.

Can I get voucher funding for my business premises?

Yes, your business must be an SME or a Sole Trader/Partnership and meets the following requirements set out by DCMS

  • Employs fewer than 250 people.
  • Annual turnover is less than £50M.
  • Balance sheet of less than £43M.
  • Must have received less than £200,000 of State Aid in the last 3 years. This is the de minimus limit and it applies to agriculture, so most farms will be eligible.
  • The business must not be a subsidiary and/or under the control of a large nonSME entity.
  • The business operates from the premises for which the voucher is being applied (employees working from home are not eligible).

All businesses wishing to take part in the scheme must sign up for a minimum 12 monthsservice.

Can I register as a business even though it’s a residential property?

Yes, provided the business operates from the address requesting the B4RN service. For example, a self-empolyed plumber who operates solely from home could register as a business. So could a piano teacher, electrician etc provided you pay tax for your business at the address requesting the service. Because government is keen for businesses to get Gigabit broadband, the £150 connection fee is waived for business and you’ll receive a £150 grant toward any costs of digging the final duct from the pavement to your home.

Why do I need to register at Get B4RN?

Firstly, this let’s us know you want the B4RN service. We would encourage you to do this now, even if you want the service to start later. There is a scheme called Connect+ which can make it easier for you to deal with the transition to B4RN if you’re stuck in an existing contract.

Secondly, this triggers funding from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that enables B4RN to get the service to your boundary.

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. Start at the point you would like the B4RN to enter the property and work a route back towards where we meet 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! Visit our weekly drop in sessions to discuss further..

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

It’s already happening! Many have had a service for a few years using the traditional approach of crossing fields and gardens. We have contractors working right now to provide the B4RN service via the pavements to those who don’t already have access to the B4RN network.

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

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. We have a list of contractors who you can pay to do it for you and you’ll receive a grant toward the cost once you are live.

How can I help with the project?

Start or join a digging team with your neighbours. Get trained to help fit house kits. Invest in B4RN to help fund this project. Support your neighbours with the project doing whatever you can. As Tesco say, “Every little helps.”

Can I lay conduit above ground?

As long as you use the 7mm black UV safe conduit and it is attached to a solid structure, 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. You can’t just lay the conduit on the ground surface!

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 volunteer team 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. Your local volunteer team will advise on the route through your property but the duct route is the householder’s responsibility, as is recording the route.

VOIP Telephony

Should I cancel my landline when I’ve got B4RN?

Many people do cancel their landline and simply use their mobile phone for all calls. You’ve no real need for your landline unless you need it for certain alarm or emergency alert systems but many of these can be adapted to work over the internet.

If you wish to port your existing landline telephone number to a VOIP service then you MUST first arrange the porting of your number to your desired VOIP provider. If you cancel your landline before doing this, you’ll lose your telephone number. Your new VOIP provider will then arrange the cancellation of your old landline.

Remember that in the event of a power cut your B4RN service will be unavailable unless you have a means of providing power to the router and other equipment you may use.

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. The latest B4RN routers have a VOIP port that allows you to use your existing phone with most VOIP services such as Sipgate or Yay! Read the other VOIP FAQ’s for more information.

Can I use my existing handset?

Yes, the newer B4RN routers have a built in port for your existing phone. You will need a VOIP account with a service such as Sipgate or Yay! Vonage provide a plug and play solution which may be easier for many.

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 using a service such as Yay! or Sipgate and setting up the VOIP port in the newer B4RN router. The writer uses both these 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!

E-mail

Will my e-mails work with B4RN?

Yes, e-mail works fine with B4RN but your e-mail address may be discontinued by your existing Internet Service Provider (ISP) when you terminate your contract with them.

What do I do about my e-mail address?

You may currently have an e-mail address that is tied to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Some ISP’s may let you continue to use your email address but others may discontinue it or at best, continue it for a yearly fee.

We would recommend creating a free Gmail or Outlook (formerly Hotmail) address and start using it now. This gives you plenty of time to give your new e-mail address to your friends and everybody else that needs it.

B4RN do not provide any e-mail accounts.

Investing in B4RN

How can I find out more about the share scheme?

The best place is at https://b4rn.org.uk/resources – click the Investors tab 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 will waive the one off connection fee of £150!

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 do I contact if I have a problem with my live service?

If your service goes off check the B4RN network status page at https://b4rn.org.uk/b4rn-service/network-status which may detail planned or emergency downtime.

Check your router has power – is there a power cut or has your consumer unit tripped out that circuit? Power cuts in our region can be checked here – https://www.enwl.co.uk/power-cuts/power-cuts-power-cuts-live-power-cut-information-fault-list/fault-list

If you have a problem you can’t resolve then call the helpdesk on 01524 238499 or email helpdesk@b4rn.org.uk

How much does B4RN cost?

The service is currently £30 per month for residential properties and micro businesses. There is a £150 one off connection fee. The connection fee is waived if you invest £1500 or more or if you are a business that has successfully applied for DCMS voucher funding.

A dig grant of £150 is payable once you are live and paying for your B4RN service and have responded to a final email from DCMS.

Current charges are available here – b4rn.org.uk/b4rn-service/charges

What is the dig grant?

Provided you have succesfully registered for the DCMS voucher scheme, a dig grant of £150 will be paid to you to help cover any costs incurred in digging in your duct from the pavement to your house. It is paid once you are live with B4RN, have responded to a final email from DCMS and have started paying for your B4RN service.

Should I cancel my landline when I’ve got B4RN?

Many people do cancel their landline and simply use their mobile phone for all calls. You’ve no real need for your landline unless you need it for certain alarm or emergency alert systems but many of these can be adapted to work over the internet.

If you wish to port your existing landline telephone number to a VOIP service then you MUST first arrange the porting of your number to your desired VOIP provider. If you cancel your landline before doing this, you’ll lose your telephone number. Your new VOIP provider will then arrange the cancellation of your old landline.

Remember that in the event of a power cut your B4RN service will be unavailable unless you have a means of providing power to the router and other equipment you may use.

How and when do I set up my Direct Debit payment?

Once your service is live, B4RN will send you an email containing instructions for setting up your Direct Debit online.

When do I get my dig grant?

Once you are live with B4RN and responded to an email from DCMS confirming you are live and have set up and paid your first direct debit instalment.

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!