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Tuesday 27 November 2012

Bye bye telcos

Read more! Last time here, I visited 16 States and met untold numbers of people who were building FTTh networks (mainly) against all odds. Incumbent odds. This time, the USA seems much more "with it".

This blog post can be read at
I really must get a job. This drifting around the planet looking at fibre and rural networks quite simply doesn't pay. Well, not in pounds sterling.

In gleeful moments of joy (for which there does not seem to be a currency, yet) pays umpteen times over!

I have watched, over the last 8 years visiting America - north and south - certain networks achieve what the telcos will tell you is impossible. Rural communities that the AT &Ts of this world (BT in UK) tell you are impossible for anything above a totally derogatory 2Meg USO are now FLAUNTING 1-10 Gbps affordable Internet access. Not some VPN, but hardcore download/upload this, FAST oooooh *that* fast, Internet.

Even better, I am seeing funding coming in to these projects from the most unexpected quarters because the community networks now have a track record of delivering. Into deeply rural Homes and businesses.

Interestingly, those self-same homes and businesses that the telcos say are impossible to connect. Funny that.

Let us take a really desperate stab in the dark. Do YOU think the telcos might be LYING?? Because all the evidence points to it being feasible. This rural and remote, ultra HyperFast broadband delivered by communities.

Hang on, I need to write this in capitals....


and once again, I am seeing it.

Yeah, you can dismiss me as a hippified broadband evangelist campaigner, but when I can see this in place, talk to the people using it, whose lives it has changed, and where the business plans put paid to the shit that BT et al dole out about broadband to rural areas being unviable, well......what more do I need to do?

I can encourage YOU to get out of the UK and come and see this for yourself. I can publish the detail about the UK etc in the hope you may read it. I can shout, loudly, that you are being lied to over and over again, that YOUR money as a taxpayer is being (right royally) squandered. I can try, desperately, to encourage you to JFDI - we will all help you, even when your fibre is accidentally cut through, your exchange kit is well and truly trashed in a criminal attack when only two companies hold the keys for that site, (allegedly, obv) and when every single "respectable organisation" (cough splutter) tells you, "It ain't possible". We will back you up and prove it really, really is.

I will hazard a guess that every single minister and BT top bod since I started this campaign nigh on 20 years ago is a Freemason and that unless you are, your project will never be funded.

But, you don't need to roll your trouser leg up and stand in a bowl of porridge to deliver seriously good broadband. You just need to JFDI.
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Monday 5 November 2012

Vote for FibreGarden and John Colton

Read more! You all know I have been in this game for a while. I do not suffer fools gladly and I am glad to say John Colton is not one of those who has made me suffer. I have enormous respect for this man, both professionally and on a personal level. FibreGarden is worth every penny of our money and should go ahead as soon as possible. Voting for him as a Digital Hero is the least we can do.

This blog post can be read at

I am getting a bit fed up of discovering "hidden agendas" in this space, and am always relieved when my gut instinct proves to have been right in tracking down the "good folk".

To highlight my respect for John and this project, I am reproducing the FibreGarDen press release in its entirety, below.

For those of you new to this world of community broadband solutions, as a quick intro, John is a fibre optic industry specialist. He may claim to be simply offering training solutions, but his actual involvement in solving the current telecoms crisis in this country goes far deeper. From FIA involvement - that's the industry body btw- to giving up his free time and expertise to solve the problems at grassroots and with the rural fibre pioneers, this man deserves recognition far beyond the industry. And within his own community, there are few who know he is not an offcomedun but actually lives in and works from the home that his family have lived in since 1640 (or so I recall from one chat over coffee in said home).

There are a few videos on YouTube of him and his staff - I prefer "passionate personnel" - going above and beyond the call of duty to get the first fibre to the farm in the ground and working - I hope someone may post the relevant links in the comments section.

Do your bit, please. Vote for John Colton as the Digital Hero for the North West. No-one deserves our respect more than him. And you can guarantee that this man is certainly not in pursuit of a private agenda or a new career or personal advancement - his humility and dedication alone should inspire all of us. FibreGarden should be one of the key projects, along with B4RN, that we all look to over the coming years as "exemplars" who, one suspects, may put the established telcos into a whole new gear in order to keep up!


29th October 2012




Resident of Garsdale, Cumbria and Fibre Garden’s Technical Director, John Colton has been nominated as North West Region Finalist for the Talk Talk Digital Heroes Awards 2012.

Talk Talk, in association with Citizens Online and the Mirror Newspaper Group, for the fifth year running have sponsored the Awards celebrating inspirational people who use digital technology to benefit their community. The winner is decided by a public vote with an awards ceremony at the House of Commons in London.

Voting for the winner has now opened and South Lakeland and Cumbrian residents are encouraged to support your local “Digital Hero”. The relevant website to vote is here ( talk

ACT QUICKLY - VOTING CLOSES 18th November 2012.

John has been a key member of the Fibre Garden volunteer team, empowered by their respective Parish Councils, that has been working with DEFRA, Broadband UK (BDUK), Cumbria County Council and Tim Farron MP for the last two years. The final outcome will be the delivery of a fully inclusive, future-proofed fibre to the home (FTTH) superfast broadband network to every household in Garsdale and Dentdale.  

This landmark pilot scheme will offer service speeds of 30 Mbps and 100 Mbps, enabling the most advanced business, education, media, healthcare, tourism and agricultural usage and applications. An important element of the offering under evaluation is the proposed delivery of an innovative backhaul internet connection, provided by Network Rail Telecoms, via fibre optic cable along the Settle – Carlisle railway line.  

TIM FARRON,MP said “The Digital Heroes Awards were designed to recognise and reward those who use digital technology to make a difference in their communities. John is the person who best exemplifies that. Having worked with him and others on the broadband scheme I know he is a worthy winner – please support him and help give a local person the national recognition they deserve.”

His Fibre Garden colleagues when nominating him said “John's passion and leadership have been critical in developing the founding principles of a digital network with 100% inclusivity, fully future proofed, and under community ownership. John has worked selflessly with other communities in Cumbria to help explain the benefits of FTTH, producing the business and technical models to support the company's plans and tirelessly attending hours of community meetings and suppliers discussions to ensure the best possible outcomes.”


John Colton, Technical Director of Fibre Garden when asked how he felt upon being nominated    commented “ I am humbled that my colleagues put me forward, delighted that Talk Talk is providing this sort of assistance to the digital efforts of communities around the country, and finally, excited that this is the beginning of an exhilarating journey to create the first truly future proofed "digital dale”."  

John Colton further commented “An investment in FTTH is an investment in our future with almost immediate payback in terms of connectivity, livelihoods and services. It represents the only really future proofed solution to deliver internet access, a utility that has become a daily feature of our lives, and will become increasingly all important in our wired digital world.”






Fibre Garden, the not for profit community broadband company for Garsdale and Dentdale, were the first Rural Broadband pilot nationally, and in Cumbria, to be announced by the Secretary of State for DEFRA, The Rt.Hon. Owen Patterson MP, as the recipient of a £157,500 DEFRA grant under the BDUK/Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) scheme.

Fibre GarDen is a community company established to deliver a fully inclusive future-proofed fibre to the home broadband network in Garsdale and Dentdale, two dales located in South-East Cumbria, close to the North Yorkshire and Lancashire boundaries and inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

This has been a joint endeavour as we recognized early on that combining our resources and efforts would be beneficial to the residents and businesses of both dales. It has the approval and support of both Parish Councils and the company has been established with a strong volunteer management team with combined experience in finance, marketing, fibre optic technology, education, health provision, and farming services.

The project is ambitious, as its aim is not simply to increase rural broadband speeds, but to demonstrate how economic disadvantage and social exclusion can be overcome in a rural area by the provision of future-proof Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband. In order to achieve its goals, it will harness community support and action alongside government investment and commercial partnership.

A detailed business plan, supported by extensive evidence, has been developed showing that a 60km network connecting the two dales and 500+ premises will be constructed with a community organisational and digging effort and farmers’ community spirit. This is fully costed to a high technical standard including network installation, fibre cabling and fibre types, installation and fusion splicing, telephony, quality of service, infrastructure services and ongoing management thereof.

The network that is created will:

• provide a 100% fibre optic cable to all properties and businesses, and thus be fully future-proofed;
• be either own brand and open access ISP;
• enable initial broadband speeds of  30Mbps and 100 Mbps, with the option for Gb/s service in the future depending upon need and growth in demand;
• be a significant economic multiplier for businesses and the community as a whole;
• support educational opportunity and social advantage for all as increasingly new forms of learning methods develop;
• provide extra fibre capacity for community and future P2P use;
• be available to supply backhaul for 4G mobile phone coverage;
• provide support to farming enterprises, in areas where the rural economy relies upon a vibrant farming sector and where the national food supply agenda needs to be fully recognized and supported;
• be available to NHS Cumbria for informatics, telemedicine and telehealth research trials;
• be available for use by emergency services, critical in an upland and occasionally remote rural area;
• become a template for the creation of a fibre network, which will be available for other rural communities to use; and
• most importantly, be fit for purpose for accommodating other (unforeseen) technological advances that may transpire in the future
Funding of the network will come from a variety of sources including the BDUK/RDPE contribution of £300 per premise, possible further Cumbria County Council assistance from their Performance Related Grant (PRG), vendor finance, a community share issue, loans and work in-kind.

For further information contact:

Stefan Kosciuszko, Director, Marketing & Communications, Fibre Garden – 07811286539 (


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