B4GAL Community Broadband Ltd was established in 2013 to deliver superfast broadband to the nine villages of the old Glencaple and Lowther parish that straddles the border between South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway in rural Scotland. A community project run by volunteers, the organisation formed as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. For the past 4 years, B4GAL has worked with Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) to establish a project that delivers connectivity through State Aid funding.
At the Annual General Meeting held on Monday 10th April 2017, it was decided that B4GAL would seek an alternative route to fund and deliver a community broadband network. This was mainly on the grounds that the State Aid funding requirements of CBS could not be met as it was impossible to create a sustainable business case, based on wholesale prices, for the small number of properties left out by the Rest of Scotland (BT) procurement.
We looked south, to a community group that started about the same time as ours: B4RN or Broadband for the Rural North. This group of very active volunteers has developed its own model for broadband rollout and, four years later, are a sustainable business with 14 staff, hundreds of volunteers and around 2500 customers who subscribe to their hyperfast broadband offering. B4RN has not had any public funding, instead they have relied almost entirely on local investors and a business development loan from the Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation.
The initial business plan for B4GAL was very similar to B4RN and now, four frustrating years later, we have decided to return to that route in the hope that our villages will not have to suffer much longer from digital deprivation.
This new website, created after the AGM, will seek to outline the way forward for our communities.