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First Broadband Customers Live on N.Ireland’s Project Stratum

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 (5:33 pm) - Score 1,680
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The Northern Ireland Executive (DfE) has today announced that the first customers have now gone live on the new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network, which is being built with state aid support from the £165m Project Stratum programme.

Last year saw newcomer Fibrus being chosen to deliver Project Stratum (here), which will see a total of £350m (public and private funding) being invested to extend “full fibre” broadband to more than 76,000 extra premises across some of the hardest to reach areas in Northern Ireland (e.g. rural) by the end of 2025.

Now, just three months into the awarding of the Project Stratum contract, the first OLT (Optical Line Termination) in Coalisland, County Tyrone is finally live with the first customers connected.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, said:

“In today’s world we are especially reliant on our broadband services and good connectivity. More and more of our work and leisure time is spent online and if you don’t have access to good broadband this can be a real issue. Speaking to Tara Hamill has underscored the difference Project Stratum can make to peoples lives and how it is bringing tangible benefits to householders.

I know there are many communities, especially in rural areas, which have been waiting a long time for improvements in their broadband speeds. These first connections demonstrate Fibrus Networks have the capability and capacity to deliver full fibre solutions, with speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, to many rural premises transforming the broadband connectivity landscape for individuals and businesses across Northern Ireland.”

I want to congratulate Fibrus Networks on reaching the first significant milestone and I look forward to hearing about their continued deployment in bringing the benefits of Next Generation Access broadband to many more neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland.”

We should remind readers that an address level Postcode Checker is also available, which enables people to check eligibility and availability for when the new gigabit-capable network will reach them.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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15 Responses
  1. Matthew says:

    Actually saw some contractors working on behalf of fibrus in my area. I am not due to go live until the Autumn according to the tracker though.

  2. Paul Butler says:

    Don’t hold your breath. And if you eventually get it, it’s nothing anywhere near the speed advertised. Absolute joke of a company from what I’ve been hearing

    1. Robert murray says:

      I’m with fibrus in one off the affected areas .I have to admit they have had there problems. Got a phone call 2 weeks ago from them. As I’m on there 1gigbit package. Telling me all issues have been fixed. And for the last month the service has been great no slow down or dropouts at peak time. Runs anything with no problems. So I say well done fibrus on keeping there word and fixing the issues in Ballynahinch

  3. Daryl says:

    Does BT adopt the network after completion or a set period of time? Or do you have to stay with fibrus for say 18 months then switch to BT after that. Or are you stuck with fibrus forever? Surely that would go against competition as well.

    We’re Due Spring 2023 and we could do with some decent internet where we are.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Fibrus are building an independent FTTP network, so you gain the extra choice of taking that with its much faster performance. But Openreach’s older copper network will still exist if you want to switch back to that or even stay on it. All ISPs have contract terms, but that’s a different matter.

    2. 125us says:

      Only Openreach and Kcom are mandated to wholesale to any ISP. Independent networks can choose whether to do that or not. The economics tend to say not, because it costs a lot of money to build your systems for wholesaling and instead of keeping all the revenue from a customer you only get a small fraction of it when other ISPs are used.

      Generally where networks are built with public money there’s a requirement to Wholesale.

    3. Daryl says:

      Thanks for the reply guys. Copper cables aren’t an option. Too far from the exchange and someone cut the line into the house recently while cutting hedges. So no easy way to go back, not that I’d want to. The joys of living in the country. We run a 4g router at the moment which is a lot better than the previous woeful BT infinity or equivalent.

      Fibrus are getting a lot of public money so going by your theory 125us theirs a chance we could have options of going to someone else down the line? Was Project stratum not introduced to give people in certain post codes more choice of internet above a certain speed. Surely having to stick to one provider goes against this?

    4. Mark Jackson says:

      “Only Openreach and Kcom are mandated to wholesale to any ISP”

      I’m not privy to the contract details of Project Stratum, but when a Building Digital UK framework applies then this normally includes a provision for wholesale access to be made available (i.e. supplying other ISPs access to sell connections via the Fibrus network). The catch is of course that it doesn’t strictly mandate that such a wholesale solution must be widely advertised or as extensive as the sort of solutions that Openreach provides to ISPs, but one should still exist. I will check this for N.Ireland.

    5. Daryl says:

      Thanks Mark

    6. Mark Jackson says:

      Just got it confirmed that Fibrus must meet a wholesale commitment as part of the contract.

    7. SuperFast Dream says:

      @Mark, yes you are correct.

      I attended a virtual meeting/forum last night with Fibrus as part of their Coalisland rural build and they confirmed that Project Stratum is an open network/Fibrus wholesale project. They are currently in discussion with ISP’s to resell the product on to consumers.

      They made it quite clear that as this is public money, they cannot be the only reseller of the product as it could be seen as monopolisation, something they want to avoid. Fibrus will of course resell the service themselves but at least we should have a further choice of other ISP’s to choose from, as long as these ISP’s onboard of course!

      The previous backhaul problems were also quoted to them and they were keen to advise that they have learnt their lesson on the capacity issues and have addressed this. These were of course part of their previous build in Co Down and they have assured us that this will not occur under anything deployed as part of project stratum, but of course technology can go wrong….

      Based on the information provided consumers will be contacted once they have finished the build in the area and once they have onboarded some ISP’s to work with. I envisage that will probably be around the end May, or late Spring/early summer as they quoted, for this first stage of the project.

      As it passes my front door, and all works except blowing the Fibre over have been completed I look forward to receiving it, at last…

    8. Daryl says:

      Thanks very much for that guys. That’s good news. I wouldn’t like to be tied to the same network. Roll on summer 2023. Lol

  4. Mark says:

    Fibrus are still on ipv4, they have a nat system (ISP side), no ports can be opened.

    Speed has just been lifted from 100mb to 300mb, due to problems with there service.

    1. Ryan says:

      Does this mean there is absolutely no way to port forward?

    2. Paul says:

      I’ve recently got my fibre installed, while I’m very happy with the 300Mb down / 100Mb up speed. However, not being able to port forward is a major issue for me.

      The Nokia modem/router supplied is completely locked up and frankly useless. I’ve ordered a 3rd party modem and will link it back to a router I have here to bypass the Nokia one in an attempt to solve my problems.. the public IP address also changes every few mins and the duration can’t be modified because the router is locked up! – what’s that about??

      Fibrus are aware of my issues since last week, I’ve yet to receive a response.

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