Farmers in England Lay Their Own Fibre-Optic Cable

It’s no secret that farmers have become more dependent on the Internet. They need it for live weather updates, self-promotion, selling product, and much more. A prime example of the farming community’s desperate need for faster connection is the incredible effort by a small rural county in northwest England called Lancashire.

The farmers were working with connection speeds of 0.5 mbps or less. To give you an idea of how slow that is, it would take a few minutes to send an email and only the most basic websites would even load. Frustrated that the government and telecommunication companies had no plans to offer high speed Internet in their region, the farmers whipped out the shovels and started digging.

Over the last two years, the volunteer farmers have laid 520 km of fibre-optic cable, connecting hundreds of properties within a 430 sq. km area. Not only have they connected hundreds of properties, they’re also connecting at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (the same connection speed SWIFT plans to bring to Southwestern Ontario)! This endeavour has brought Lancashire into the digital age. The goal is to eventually connect 3,500 properties.

The network is called Broadband for the Rural North, or B4RN for short. This is an incredible story about a community’s determination to compete on an economical and social level, but one of the only reasons it was possible for Lancashire to build its own fibre-optic network is because one of the UK’s leading network designers, Barry Forde, lives in the area. Under his leadership, the farmers and village residents were able to get this far.

The fact that the residents of Lancashire decided to undertake this massive project on a volunteer basis emphasizes the need for faster Internet speeds in rural areas. Contact your county office today to let them know how important a faster connection is to you and your family.

Feature image: Farmers beginning their dig in March 2012 – via Forbes