Decent broadband access in rural areas is generally a problem across the globe. It’s an issue both the FCC and politicians in the United States have called out in the last few years, and a challenge that some are hoping infrastructure-touting candidate Trump will help to tackle when he becomes president and the new administration takes its place next month.
Last week up north, rural broadband issues got the full spotlight treatment from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which declared “broadband access internet service is now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians.” The regulatory agency set new speed targets and created a fund that will invest up to $750 million (Canadian) over and above existing government programs.
“Canadians who participated during our process told us that no matter where they live or work in our vast country — whether in a small town in northern Yukon, a rural area of eastern Quebec, or in downtown Calgary — everyone needs access to high-quality fixed internet and mobile services,” CRTC Chairman and CEO Jean-Pierre Blais says. “We are doing our part to bring broadband services to rural and remote communities.”
Political will is one thing, but not the only way to get it done − at least in one case across the pond. The lack of ultra high speeds in the picturesque English countryside has led to a unique do-it-yourself approach covered by BBC News this week. The report calls Christine Conder, who lives on a farm in a rural area of the United Kingdom, “a revolutionary internet pioneer” after her DIY solution to a neighbor’s internet connectivity problems in 2009 eventually developed into a bigger project dubbed B4RN. BBC reports that Conder bought a kilometer of fiber, and a farm tractor was used to dig a trench in order to solve an issue caused by growing trees that began to block a wireless mast.
“We dug it ourselves and we lit [the cable] ourselves and we proved that ordinary people could do it,” Conder tells the BBC. “It wasn’t rocket science. It was three days of hard work.”
That eventually led to the B4RN project that describes itself as “a professionally designed fiber-optic broadband network, registered as a non-profit community benefit society, and run by a dedicated local team with the support of landowners and volunteers. We offer 1,000 Mbps FTTH broadband to every property in our coverage area within North West England, costing households only £30 per month.” You can read more about it here.
BBC notes that it is 35 times faster than the 28.9 Mbps average U.K. speed internet connection according to U.K. communications regulator Ofcom. “B4RN now claims to have laid 2,000 miles (3,218 km) of cable and connected a string of local parishes to its network,” the news report says. You can see the full BBC News coverage of the project here.