Welcome to CHAIN, or Chipping Area Internet Network. We are a voluntary group whose goal is to bring a 1 Gbps internet connection to Chipping and the local area.
What is a 1 Gbps Internet Connection?
Most internet connections run at about 7-10 Mbps, with some of the faster connections getting up to 20-30 Mbps per second. This is the amount of data that can be downloaded in a second. The fastest connections supplied by BT are around 200 Mbps, but these are rare and are generally confined to urban areas such as big cities. Our goal is to connect any property that wishes to subscribe, to an optical fibre connection that will supply a broadband service that is up to 150 times faster. That means you would be able to download a high definition film in minutes instead of hours (or in the worst case, days).
How will we do that?
We are working with a non-profit community benefit society called B4RN, or Broadband for the Rural North. B4RN was founded in 2011 and since then has achieved the following (as of November 2016)
- B4RN has over 6000 connected customers
- B4RN is an equal opportunities employer with over 30 staff and hundreds of volunteers
- uptake of B4RN averages about 65% of all properties in the communities we’ve completed
- local communities have invested over £5m in B4RN’s shares and loans
- B4RN has around 2300 shareholders
Isn’t that very expensive?
The local network will cost several hundred thousand pounds by the time it is completed, but we have already got initial connections up and running for less than £150,000. Because we are using local volunteers to do most of the work, this keeps our costs down. Our link with B4RN also keeps costs under control, as well as ensuring that we have all the expertise we need to install the system across the area. Individual connections to the system can be made for a £150 fee, plus £30 a month. It is also possible to invest in (buy shares) or make a loan to B4RN. A £1,500 investment will also cover the £150 connection fee.
Gigabit Voucher Scheme
B4RN are a registered supplier on the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which is part of the Local Full Fibre Networks Programme. This is a Government fund set up to help locally led projects across the UK leverage local and commercial investment in full fibre, which is the “gold standard” for fast and reliable broadband. It is aimed at helping local businesses and residencies to upgrade their internet to 1000 Mbps/1 Gbps.
Most of the Chipping area is eligible for these vouchers, which help fund the whole scheme as well as contributing to the costs of installing the modems in each property. Please click on the link below to register your interest in a connection and to see if you are eligible for the voucher scheme.
When will this all happen?
As of July 2019, we have installed conduit from the cabinet in Bleasdale through to a new cabinet at Chipping Village Hall. B4RN have blown fibre along this route and the Village Hall and the first eighty or so properties have already been connected, including the two primary schools and one of the pubs in the village. Work is active in the centre of the village to get more properties linked up, but it does take time. We now have a link to the B4RN network in Goosnargh, which gives the local network more robustness. It will probably take a further 1-2 years to connect everyone who wants a connection, but that all depends upon the uptake and the level of support from volunteers.
How can I learn more?
CHAIN is only just beginning, but look out for more updates here or on local noticeboards. As this website develops, it will be possible to send messages, subscribe to email newsletters and get involved in the project. Please bear with us – lots more information is coming.