A PROJECT to bring hyperfast broadband to the Allen Valleys completed its first live connections last weekend after years of planning.

The community group Broadband 4 Allen Valleys (B4AV) is celebrating after its first customers went live on the Broadband For Rural North's (B4RN) full fibre network thanks to B4RN staff, B4AV volunteers and local contractors.

The ambitious £100,000 project was launched by B4AV in 2017, in a bid to improve internet connections for 400 households and businesses.

"It is a big relief", project leader Mike Robinson said. "A lot of work has gone into it and it is great to see it come to fruition.

"It is better than people said it would be. Many households have struggled with the Internet and we did not realise by how much until they got connected. We have got a lot more interest already."

Every property in the project will get a fibre from one of four roadside cabinets: Whitfield, Catton, Allendale and Allenheads. Last week B4RN brought the Whitfield and Catton cabinets online.

B4RN's initial plan was to bring the Allendale cabinet live first with more houses ready to take the service surrounding Allendale than around Whitfield and Catton.

However the plan later changed to a different connection with the outstanding work due to be complete in the near future.

Mike added: "Originally it was all created on Google Maps, but when we got to the land there were some routes that didn't work.

The original installation around Allendale takes the network half way to the Allenheads cabinet, and the route the rest of the way to Allenheads is planned.

B4RN have already agreed expansion of the network out from what is live, making further connections in the future easier it.

Mike Robinson said members of B4AV were due to meet with its volunteer champions this week to discuss more details about the expansion of the network.

He explained: "Once we have the four cabinets up and running it can work like a spider's web and covers a large area across the whole Allen Valleys.

"We have had really good support from the community, whether it is members of B4RN, volunteers, shareholders or landowners."

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