To apply for a Gigabit Voucher, it is a simple totally online process. You need to visit the Get B4RN page and enter your postcode and then select Check. If your postcode is validly within an existing B4RN project, the form will now open and should be completed.
The form does state that you are agreeing to a 12-month contract with B4RN. Once you have applied to B4RN for a voucher they will pass this on to the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). DCMS will then contact you by email and ask you to verify and confirm the application via email.
Your ‘contract’ with B4RN starts on the day the service comes live and you start to use it, which is likely not to be before your current supply contract finishes. At the point your service comes live you will be given a contract form, provided by a coordinator, for you to complete and return for them to forward to B4RN Head Office.
Before that date there are a number of milestones that the overall project has to achieve and a number of steps relating to the actual installation at your property. To move the project into the build phase the following key conditions have to be met; permission from landowners (wayleave) to run duct across their land if they are taking more than just the duct for their property, at least 30% of the properties in the project area need to have formally applied for the service using ‘Get B4RN’and sufficient investment in B4RN from the community in support of our project (more of that later). Once we have met these conditions, building of the initial route to bring the service to a cabinet at the village school can be started. From then on routes can be progressed out across the project area. That is the point at which we get to be ‘hands on’. For fibre to be actually blown into the ducts the signups for the service needs to have reached 50% of properties within the project area.
Each individual householder can direct the route the ducts take through their curtilage whether they are taking ducting just for their own use or for others as well. Your route should lead to the most suitable place for your router to be placed in your property. You will have access to advice when deciding your route if you wish. If you are eligible for a Government voucher then there is an allowance of £150 for the connection to be made within your curtilage. If you wish to do the digging yourself you will be eligible to receive £150 yourself. If you choose to get someone else to do the work for you they will receive the £150 allowance instead on completion of the installation. This work is often undertaken by a local community group who are willing to take on this work for the allowance cost. If you decide to pay another commercial contractor then they may charge more but you will still be able to offset this cost with the £150 allowance.
The installation of the ducting is very straightforward and more details can be supplied if required. All of the ducting required for the connection is supplied free of charge.
We mentioned above the opportunity to invest in our local project. We will not overburden you will detail of this, but in summary B4RN are looking for members of the local community to invest in B4RN by buying shares that will give an initial return of 5% per annum. Our community will have to raise just less that £100k to generate government support for our scheme. Several members of the community have already chosen to make an investment as the rate of return is attractive and we feel we would like to support this project for the sake of the community, but that is a personal choice. If for any reason you are not entitled to get a Government voucher but you invest £1,500 in B4RN then the connection fee is waived. It is worth noting that B4RN do not receive any of the Government money until the service has gone live and the customer has verified to the DCMS that the service is indeed live. The local investment is therefore necessary to help cover initial costs in relation to the build. B4RN is a Community Benefit Society which means it operates differently to many internet providers. Further details are in the Resources area on the B4RN website.
As you have noted the stated initial service duration is 12 months. B4RN are generally confident that once service is taken the majority of customers will not wish to leave. However should you wish to terminate before this there are no early exit fees.
If the project goes ahead B4RN will leave a connection for every property in the project area as close to that property as it is possible if that household does not wish to take service. This means they, or a subsequent owner, have the option to obtain a connection at a later date. If they make an application at a later date they will receive the same treatment as defined above, assuming that vouchers are still available from DCMS. However if in the initial phase of installation someone refuses to grant a wayleave across their property which might have been required and requested to install ducts across their land for their own property and that of at least one another property, then they would then be charged the commercial cost of installation if they wished to take up the service at a future date. However it is worth emphasizing, for the reasons explained above, that we would encourage an early commitment from local households to ensure that the project meets the required criteria for it to go ahead
All of the details above apply to residential properties. Please note that similar, but different, arrangements apply to business premises.
We hope this has fully answered all of your immediate questions. If not please do not hesitate to contact us again for further information.