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Openreach Hails 50 Percent Full Fibre Cover in Northern Ireland

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 (7:49 am) - Score 2,136
fibre splice outdoor openreach engineer fttp

Openreach (BT) has today hailed the efforts of 750 engineers who have helped them to extend their commercial rollout of 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP technology, which now covers over 50% of Northern Ireland (420,000 premises); considerably more than Scotland, Wales or England.

The news, which follows shortly after we revealed that alternative network ISP Fibrus had beaten BT to be chosen as the “preferred bidder” for NI’s £165m Project Stratum programme to help extend “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage (here), marks a significant development for the region.

Back in late June 2020 we reported that Openreach’s full fibre network had covered 360,000 premises (up by 100,000 since January 2020) and they’ve since added another 60,000 to reach the new total of 420,000 premises.

The operator, which is now building FTTP across N.Ireland at a rate of over 3,500 premises passed per week, currently plans to continue their deployment to the next target of 525,000 premises (60% coverage) by March 2021 and they’ve recently indicated that they won’t stop there.

Mairead Meyer, Director of Openreach in NI, said:

“Despite our size, Northern Ireland always shines on the global stage and goes shoulder to shoulder with the best of them – this is certainly true for the progress that has been made to keep NI at the forefront of digital technology. We’re very proud that our Full Fibre build programme has helped NI to rank so highly and has made the region a leader within the UK. This is an incredible achievement.

The Full Fibre network is about setting Northern Ireland up for success today and in the future. It will be transformational, providing a consistent and fast service to connect families, businesses and public services in the region and will be a platform for economic growth for the region. Those who adopt it first will be the first to see the benefits of it.”

By comparison the latest data from Ofcom showed that only 13% of premises in England, 13% in Scotland and 15% in Wales could currently access a “full fibre” network if they wanted. The progress is wonderful news for N.Ireland, although it should be said that the region is weaker on “superfast” coverage, where around 10% remain unserved, although Project Stratum will focus on resolving as much of that as it possibly can.

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22 Responses
  1. Avatar Blanket says:

    Credit where it is due. 50% in a couple of years is impressive. Is there anyway to see when when this project started and how long the FTTC rollout took to get to this level? It would be good to compare NI to the other nations progress to see how long it might take elsewhere.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      It is interesting that there is this level of FTTP penetration – which is great. What would be even more interesting is to see the take up rates. I wonder if @AF of TBB has any NI specific data to share on that?

      Funding for this came as part of the Confidence & Supply Maybot deal as well as earlier commercial work by OR. So has been in the pipeline for a good while.

      My guess is that we will see NI on 85-90% before too long as the workforce is in place and a massive amount of urban remains to be done which will be in commercial scope.

    2. Avatar Blanket says:

      Stratum is the confidence and supply money so this must be separate. I’m assuming this is Openreach funded as there have been no other BDUK in NI that I know of.

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    50% rollout is great but as with most utilities in Northern Ireland competition is extremely poor (e.g there is only 2 providers of mains gas and no smart readers for gas or electric)

    Currently BT are the only company selling 100mbps+ FTTP

    1. Avatar Mark says:

      Fibrus offer upto 1gb fttp

    2. Avatar Houndoom says:

      FYI In terms of other sellers of FTTP,

      BT sell it, Sky and TalkTalk have recently started selling it and is available in NI. ISPreview had posts up in the past few weeks about Sky and TT selling it.

      Fibrus also sell it..

    3. Avatar Mark says:

      Sorry I was just wrong, fibrus are saying its available but sky, talk talk, ee, and a handful of others tell me its not available for me yet.

      I’ve had had the option with BT for months. Can check yourself if you want BT16 1WX

    4. Avatar Stuart says:

      I’ve been with Zen for a few months now as cheaper than BT and provide a free static IP address. Also allowed me to get rid of the landline which BT still insist on.

      They seem to provide up to 900Mbps at your postcode.

  3. Avatar Rural Fermanagh says:

    The 50% with fibre, are the 50% that had superfast already.
    Well done… *slow hand clap* *yawn*
    Meanwhile, NOTHING is being done for us poor rural sods that have been begging for decent broadband and get nothing!

    1. Avatar SenseCheck says:

      There is always one negative human being that only thinks about themselves.

      You chose to live in a rural setting, you chose to buy a house with crap broadband and yet you seem to believe that a commercial organisation should prioritise expensive premises that will yield no return just because you live there.

      So SLOW HANDCLAP………..you are now living with the consequences of your decision making.

      Well played.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Unless they were raised in such a community from birth and had little choice in the matter, due to the usual circumstances (social and economic etc.).

    3. Avatar Rural Fermanagh says:

      *more slow hand claps*
      SenseCheck – Typical internet troll with superfast broadband who probably gets everything paid for them through my taxes.
      *more slow hand claps*
      I bought the house about 20 years ago, now house is worth about 40% less than the market value, as guess what… no one wants a house with sub 10Mbit broadband and no mobile signal. My 4G with antenna is a useless (sub 6Mbit, high latency, high cost), which means the broadband USO is useless too as BT USO team and Ofcom say 4G the overpriced unfit solution to my problems!
      *more slow hand claps*

    4. Avatar Terry O'Toole says:

      Mark Jackson is quite correct – there is a sheer ignorance about those of us living in rural communities whom seem to think that everything in rural areas is idyllic – not to mention that we’ve as just as much attachment to the areas we belong as much as any urban dweller has as well as the type of employment that is available. Many of us stay in such locations to help with family etc. which some people just don’t get.

      But at the same time I’m getting sick and tired of the sense of entitlement too many in the rural parts of the largely rural Fermanagh & Omagh district with regards to utilities like broadband, demanding that BT/Openreach spend four or five figure sums on each premises to roll out kilometres of optical fibre line IMMEDIATELY to everyone without delay or additional expense to customers. The ****heads that serve on the council are none the wiser about the process either and have their heads stuck in the mud despite all the moaning from councillors desperate to be seen to “do something” despite doing nothing because they can’t force a private business to prioritise them on a commercial roll out.

      BT’s fibre optic roll out is indeed exactly that – a commercial roll out that is focused of gaining a return on its investment that in the future will hopefully provide funds for the less profitable (if any profit) areas. 50% of the NI premises being fibre optic enabled in a short space of time is a good thing – had Openreach and everyone else been forced only to concentrate on sub< 2Mbps or even <1Mpbs lines before they could touch any of their others, the fibre optic penetration rate for Openreach would 5% or less by now, with the rest of the place either stuck on DOCSIS where available or struggling on iffy ADSL & VDSL lines in many cases. Others have pointed out this obvious prediction of regulatory fail in commenting on more recent articles on this site.

      In the meantime there are no fewer than three FWA broadband providers in the FODC area (granted not all three are available to everyone everywhere) as well as all four MNOs providing broadband via 4G with both metered and unmetered data packages, with geostationary satellite broadband as a "last resort". If you turn your nose up at any of those offerings then your only option is to get a community group going or form a local business to help bring superfast access to your affected premises. The people behind B4RN and the likes didn't keep whinging, they did something about their problems.

      And before anyone accuses me of being an "urban dweller" whom knows nothing of rural issues, I live in a small village and know full well problems of getting broadband to premises locally where the speeds provided by Openreach's network is unsatisfactory as I often troubleshoot issues regarding broadband provision at homes and businesses and suggest potential alternatives depending on what's available. And that's not to forget that pockets of even the most urban of metropolis' like London or even Belfast have their own issues with speeds from Openreach.

    5. Avatar Rural Fermanagh says:

      @Terry O’Toole: I tried the Fixed Wireless route a few times over the years, and I have no line of sight to any of the sites.
      The 4G is terrible, and the Fibre to the Cabinet is NOT Fibre to the premises!
      What other hoops are there for me to jump through, Low Earth Orbit Satellite?

  4. Avatar SenseCheck says:

    Not a troll just someone who doesn’t believe you have a god given right to broadband wherever you live from a company that has to make commercial decisions for the benefit of its shareholders.

    So you made a bad investment…..does that mean Openreach should?

    1. Avatar Rural Fermanagh says:

      @SenseCheck: The schools all want my kids to attend classes and study online. Fermanagh is one of the worst areas in Northern Ireland for multiple deprivations.
      It was the last ranked constituency for broadband in the UK for many years, currently 648 out of 650.
      I guess the real problem is not BT as they will continue to game the system.
      The real problem is Ofcom and the Government for letting them get away with it all, like the “Openreach, the wholly owned subsidiary of British Telecommunications plc” rubbish.
      Anyone know what happened to the BDUK clawback which was meant ensure this didnt happen for rural consumers in the first place?

  5. Avatar Lyncol says:

    I’ve noticed an increase in DP’s with newly installed fibre splitters at the top of the poles supplied from an underground cable.It would appear that connections to homes via overhead fibre has speeded up connections without the need for costly ground works.

    1. Avatar Stuart says:

      Yes, they did that in my area just over 2 years ago and it has been brilliant especially in recent months when working from home. Very frustrating for neighbours 2-3 doors up though who are on a different exchange and stuck on 3.5mbps.

  6. Avatar Chris and Ken Cooke says:

    Moved house 9 May,Sky booked in 3rd June,with Openreach to set up Internet and land-line.Sky came on 3rd June, still waiting for Open Reach(16 weeks). Sky emailed us today to say Openreach has cancelled our order. We don’t live in the wilds of the countryside,we live 500m from a telephone exchange. Can anyone help us?

  7. Avatar David says:

    Good to hear that the % has increased. I’m still in an area with copper broadband with realy slow speeds. As being forced to work from home its just not cutting the mustard! When I renewed my broadband in July, I went onto a comparison site and no-one even quotes me on it. Only company it BT. And their price is £25 after a lot of negotiations. This does not include any calls. This is more than people pay for broadband. I think charges should be based on speed pro rata.
    I asked if any other options and they mentioned 4g mobile broadband. After some investigation I found that Vodafone, BT and EE offer a router that can be used as a home broadband. This seems to be a compromise solution but looking £50 per month. PLEASE PLEASE SORT OUT BASIC FIBREOPTIC BROADBAND BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE. OPENREACH SHOULD BE FORCED TO EXTEND THE GREEN CABINETS FOR EVERYONE OR ENSURE THEY OPDATE THE MOBILE 4G MASTS TO LET EVERYONE GET A MINIMUM DATA SPEED.

    1. Avatar Hanger on says:

      @David. Who are you shouting at here?

      No commercial entity is going to spend money unless they make a return. That’s just a fact. Bringing any service like gas/water/electricity/fibre to a home or area can cost tens of thousands of pounds and no one can force a company to fix your home. Communities can work together to overcome challenges in their area like in B4RN and Openreach’s community partnership with government grants. They would give YOU options to fix YOUR problem.

    2. Avatar bc1 says:

      Have you checked to see if youre eligible under project stratum?

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