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Getting the Network to your Property

(Michael Bryant)

As the network approaches your part of Casterton you will be contacted by a member of the Project Team (most likely Richard Murray) to discuss whether you'd like to have a connection into your property. If you do you will be asked to complete a simple form requesting the connection from B4RN, which involves a one-off connection fee of £150 (waived if you have invested at least £1500).

At the same time you will be asked to say where you will want the router located (or just the baseplate if you do not intend to take the full service immediately) which determines where the fibre duct needs to be brought into your property. You will also need to indicate the route you plan to use between the boundary and your property so that an appropriate length of duct can be left at your property boundary for the connection. Deciding on the location of the router is therefore a crucial step and ideally needs to be thought about before these discussions happen (see the FAQ “B4RN Fibre Router Installation”), but if you need help you'll be put in touch with an expert member of the team.

Once the duct has been left at your boundary it is up to you to get it from there to the agreed entry point at your property (the actual installation can then be done by experts from the team at a later stage). This typically involves digging a shallow trench, removing any sharp stones which might damage the duct, carefully unwinding the coil of duct left at the boundary, laying it into the trench and covering over. Many householders will see this as a simple gardening job but others will find the prospect daunting, especially if the route from boundary to property involves having to negotiate difficult terrain or if there are serious obstacles (such as walls, concreted areas etc.). Once again the Project Team is there to help, both with the planning and even the execution of the work. You could also use the services of a professional gardener or landscaper.

With a little help from neighbours and perhaps project volunteers, getting the duct from the boundary to your property is often a lot simpler than it might seem at first sight and, as B4RN projects have progressed, techniques for making it even simpler have evolved. Pragmatically, any method which delivers an undamaged duct (sealed at the leading edge and with no tears or kinks) from the property boundary to the property is fine. Orange duct needs to be protected from sunlight (which degrades it) which is why it is buried, but, as long as it is safe from future disturbance, the depth of a trench can be quite shallow. Protecting the buried duct from possible damage by sharp stones is perhaps the main hazard and is the fiddly part of constructing trenches (removing stones, filling in with soft material, etc.) but increasingly householders are finding that a much simpler approach is to use a tough protective sleeve for the duct to feed through (alkathene water pipe is ideal) and lay that along the route first. Putting in a tough alkathene pipe requires simply digging a minimal trench, dropping in the pipe and covering over (usually with the material previously removed or even just moved to one side).

Sometimes bringing the duct into a property can be more complicated, perhaps involving taking an exposed route over the surface of structures, but the Project Team will definitely be there to advise and assist in these cases.

Important! Be sure to record details of the route you have adopted. Once ground has settled and grass grown over it will be difficult if not impossible to know where the duct has been laid. Draw an accurate plan of where the duct has been laid, make notes about any special features (e.g. its colour if you have used some kind of protective sleeve), take photographs and keep them safe. B4RN recommend keeping those records with your property deeds and also letting them have a copy.

It is early days for the Casterton project and only a few properties have had boundary-to-property work done, but here are some photo sequences which give an idea of how people are dealing with the issues. Click on any image to enlarge.


Drive edge used as route for a shallow trench for plain orange duct. Covered over with a broom!

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Long narrow trench taken through a garden lawn with a blue alkathene pipe laid out ready to put in place.

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Making a narrow, shallow trench across a lawn for an alkathene pipe (black in this case). The covered-over trench is barely visible and will disappear quickly.

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Narrow trench taken through a garden lawn. This will grow over in no time.

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Making a trench for black alkathene pipe next to a garden wall feature. Garden furniture is temporarily moved and replaced after the surface is raked over.

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