We’re up and running – or limping?

Broadband speed test gauge

How long did it take to download this page on your PC, tablet or mobile phone? Was it quick, slow, or time to make a cup of tea?

As we launch Burgh Life, the new website for the community of Burgh-next-Aylsham, we take the opportunity to ask villagers to come together “online” and voice their concerns – or satisfaction – about the quality of service provided by our broadband suppliers.

Are you happy with the broadband service you’re getting?

More and more services are moving online including banking, GP appointments and repeat prescriptions, shopping, TV, many government services, not to mention the move for more people to work from home. This makes access to fast and reliable broadband no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Here in Burgh, we appear to be in the five per cent of properties in rural areas that do not have fast broadband despite being just two miles from the exchange in Aylsham (Cabinet 4) which has been enabled for super-fast broadband.

And there are currently no plans to extend access to the faster, fibre broadband network as promised by Better Broadband for Norfolk the partnership between Norfolk County Council and BT.

There are alternatives, and one specifically centred on Norfolk according to Burgh resident Mary Forest-Hill, who has been following the government-funded Better Broadband campaign for several years, and is a keen supporter of community group-buying schemes.

Mary suggests assessing the benefits of Broadband 4 Rural Norfolk or B4RN, a professionally-designed fibre optic broadband network, registered as a non-profit Community Benefit Society, and run by a UK team with the support of landowners and volunteers.

She said: “While looking round to switch first our electricity then our oil supply to community group buying schemes, and doing this ‘online’ as usual, our broadband kept dropping out. We could only get about 2Mb via BT so a few years ago we switched to ITSWISP, a local WiFi service. We can now get about 8-10mb – enough to work or watch a film – but the service is very unreliable, and constantly drops out. It is also very expensive. So I started to look to see whether there were any broadband updates on the BB4N site and came across the B4RN site.”

B4RN offers a 1,000 Mbps fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service to every rural property in its coverage areas, costing households only £30 per month (including VAT). They have rolled out local services in Norfolk – and we can Register Interest (no commitment at this stage – just to gauge level of interest) and see if they can help us in Burgh.

“I really like these schemes, because not only are they cost efficient, but they are working together as a local community efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all,” said Mary.

Have your say here and help us decide. Do we want B4RN to provide a service for Burgh? See below.

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