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ISP Fibrus Commits to Help N.Ireland Hit 100% FTTP Broadband

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 (1:27 pm) - Score 1,513
fibrus_fttp_street_works

Belfast-based UK ISP Fibrus, which recently began the £85m+ roll-out of a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network in Northern Ireland and aims to cover 145,000 premises by around 2024 (here), has now committed to help ensure that 100% of homes can access such services by the end of 2025.

The press release almost makes it sound like Fibrus will do every home itself, although we know that Openreach (BT) have so far done the lion’s share of “full fibre” and Virgin Media has also had a sizeable input. Instead the commitment by Fibrus is actually focused upon ensuring that the remaining 12% gap in coverage will get filled by 2025.

The above is based on an expectation that deployments by various operators, as well as the planned interventions by the NI Executive in areas that are not commercially viable (here), should push “full fibre” coverage to around 88% of premises across N.Ireland (at present FTTP coverage in the region is already over 45%).

Suffice to say that, if achieved, this would make Northern Ireland the first region in the United Kingdom or Ireland to achieve the milestone of 100% coverage. Having already invested and completed full fibre networks in various towns in South Down, Fibrus says they’re now “ahead of schedule” on their earlier promise to build FTTP broadband in over 100 towns across NI.

NOTE: Fibrus claims that the major existing operators have, to date, only committed to connect 61% of NI homes between them (mostly by focusing on Belfast and 10+ other large towns).

Conal Henry, Fibrus Founder and Chair, said:

“Northern Ireland customers have already spent over £2 billion on Broadband, but up until recently it seemed that only 60% of NI homes would get full fibre. Now, with Fibrus’ investment in regional towns and timely interventions by the NI Executive in areas that are not commercially viable coverage is expected to grow to 88%. Today we are committing to ensure the remaining 12% gap will get filled by 2025.

The truth is that relying on a copper company to build our full fibre future is akin to waiting on the canal companies to build the railways. Only proper platform competition can stimulate investment and Fibrus are here in NI to deliver exactly that.”

The company says they’ve now commenced a “detailed planning and design exercise for each of these homes and is confident that, with continued regulatory and investment supports, these homes can and will be connected.” The net result being that all homes in NI can look forward, with confidence, to a full fibre future by 2025.

Admittedly if this were any other UK region then we’d be quite sceptical, but the potential to achieve such coverage by 2025 does seem more viable for N.Ireland, particularly given the impressive pace of progress that is already being made by all of the network operators. As mentioned earlier, NI is way ahead of the wider UK in FTTP coverage.

On the other hand tackling the final 12% of premises can be disproportionately expensive, which seems likely to require significantly more investment than has so far been tabled. A figure of 90-95% may thus be more feasible, but only time will tell whether or not universal coverage can actually be achieved in time.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar SuperFast Dream says:

    Positive statement there by Fibrus but I have to wonder how they source the information to determine the locations of the final 12%, I don’t think OR will give that up easily.

    Plans are fluid, OR could decide to do further areas due to underspend, could NI finally start to see some form of overbuild allowing for consumer choice of service, the next 5 years will tell….

  2. Avatar NM says:

    That sounds like great news for some of us over here! I imagine some parts of NI will be difficult to reach. FTTP installations seem to be on a steady enough roll out here though.

    I was actually due to have FTTP available to order myself just before Covid hit. We had the OFS and invisilight cables installed in our apartment block but there was some work still to be done apparently on the Openreach side that was scheduled to be done for the end of March and then wwe could place orders, unfortunately haven’t heard anything on when it might be complete now though. A little jealous of those who can get it around my area!

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