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Looking to bridge the persisting digital divide in the UK, Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) has upgraded and expanded its network with core network solutions from Juniper Networks to make broadband services available to digitally underserved communities.
B4RN’s stated mission is to provide advanced broadband services to more than 13,000 customers in rural homes, small villages, farms and dispersed settlements. It provides village halls, places of worship, primary schools and other community organisations with free, high-speed internet. Each customer enjoys a minimum 1Gbps symmetrical internet access, enabling remote work and general connectivity.
Fundamentally, the partnership between B4RN and Juniper aims to provide at-home connectivity to support remote learning capabilities for children in rural areas and digital transformation of farms and rural businesses.
The artificial intelligence (AI)-native networking company believes that by using its core and aggregation routing platforms, which deliver high performance and industry-leading sustainability, B4RN can deliver superior user experiences.
It noted, for instance, that children who lacked fast internet for remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic can now easily do their schoolwork at home when necessary, while dairy farmers can automate milking or use digital tags to keep track of their livestock.
B4RN’s scalable network extends from Manchester to Leeds, built using Juniper MX and ACX routing solutions, spanning 2,300km2. Planning to expand its footprint northwards from Leeds to Newcastle, B4RN said it would be looking to provide an “exceptional” customer experience as it provides a growing number of rural communities with equal access to digital services with a resilient ring structure. Due to the subterranean placement of B4RN’s fibre, the service remains unaffected by the north of England’s inclement weather, ensuring consistent availability.
Michael Lee, B4RN
Juniper said its MX304 Universal Routing Platform will ensure the future resilience of B4RN’s core network, providing high performance, efficiency and resilience. This, it added, should empower B4RN to extend its services to a greater number of rural communities.
B4RN is also using Juniper ACX 7100 Cloud Metro Routers to support the implementation of its 400G network in northern England, delivering fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services to rural customers. Serving as an aggregation device in the metro/edge network, the ACX7100 connects rural access sites and extends 400G deeper into the network.
The device was also chosen for its high-bandwidth ports, compact size and low power consumption, aligning with B4RN’s stated commitment to technological efficiency. As it made its technology purchasing decision, Juniper stood out for B4RN by offering the most sustainable solution, with proven performance and a highly programmable infrastructure. IT solutions provider Kubus advised B4RN on its technology decisions and assisted with the core network upgrade.
Commenting on the deployment, B4RN CEO Michael Lee said: “B4RN strives to deliver the best internet service in the country to the areas that are hardest to reach. With a 400G-ready Juniper network, we can bring the benefits of digital connectivity to rural communities for generations to come.”
Colin Evans, senior director of business development at Juniper Networks, added: “B4RN collaborates closely with communities, weaving a digital fabric across the villages and farms of rural northern England. We are very proud to be involved in B4RN’s digital transformation journey, marking a milestone in their commitment to rural connectivity.”
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