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Project Stratum FTTP Rollout in N.Ireland Adds 8500 Extra Premises

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021 (11:43 am) - Score 696
Fibrus-Engineers-Talking

The Government’s Building Digital UK (DCMS) team has today announced that their £5bn Project Gigabit programme will supply an extra £25m for the Project Stratum contract in Northern Ireland, which will enable the rollout of Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP technology to reach an additional 8,500 premises.

Last year saw Fibrus being chosen by the Northern Ireland Executive (DfE) to deliver their Project Stratum programme (here), which will use £165m of public funding to extend “full fibre” broadband to more than 76,000 premises across some of the hardest to reach rural areas in Northern Ireland by December 2023 (previously they said 2025).

NOTE: Some 76% of Northern Ireland already has access to a gigabit-capable broadband connection, which is well above the rest of the UK.

At present, the Fibrus network (both public and privately funded builds) in N.Ireland has already covered a total of 58,000 premises, although most of that is commercial build. As for the Project Stratum share, the provider currently expects to have reached 19,000 of the 76,000 contracted premises by the end of 2021.

The good news, as first hinted back in April 2021 (here), is that an agreement has just been reached to stretch the Project Stratum rollout to include a further 8,500 premises in poorly served (‘white premises’) areas (i.e. a total of 84,500 premises passed). The main beneficiaries will be those living in areas with the slowest speeds, such as in Mid Ulster, Fermanagh and South Antrim.

Oliver Dowden, Digital Secretary, said:

“We’re already seeing the biggest broadband upgrade Northern Ireland has ever seen thanks to £165 million public investment behind Project Stratum.

But I won’t let any part of Northern Ireland be left behind by the digital revolution, which is why we’re stepping in with an extra £25 million to make sure we level up as many homes and businesses as we can with broadband fit for the future.”

Dominic Kearns, Chief Executive of Fibrus, said:

“Fibrus is already making big strides in addressing the digital imbalance which exists across rural parts of Northern Ireland through Project Stratum, and this additional investment will mean a significant number of premises in the digital wilderness of Northern Ireland will not get left behind.

We are calling Project Stratum ‘The Rural Revolution’, transforming the lives of those living and working in rural and regional parts of Northern Ireland, and this additional investment will help us achieve our mission to ensure 100% of homes and businesses have access to full fibre broadband by 2025.”

At this point some of our readers might well be asking why they didn’t try to do even more than 8,500 premises. The catch is that you can only extend an existing contract so far, but past a certain point you really have to run a new procurement to avoid disputes with other providers etc. The Project Gigabit funding will of course help to fill any remaining gaps at a later date, although N.I is already on course to achieve almost universal coverage of full fibre connectivity.

Customers of Fibrus typically pay from £39.99 per month (currently discounted to £19.99) for an unlimited 150Mbps package with a router and free installation, which rises to £84.99 per month for their top 1000Mbps tier. We believe these are on 24-month contract terms.

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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.
Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. CarlT says:

    In before the usual suspect.

  2. Dialup says:

    I’m in a area designated to get fttp under the first stratum tranche of 76,000. I understand that fibrus will install the infrastructure to my home, but do I have to go with them then as my isp, or can I choose someone else? Many thanks.

    1. SB says:

      As far as I understood it from their online webinars – you will be stuck with Fibrus as the ISP for the duration of the initial contract – then should be able to choose if – and it’s a big IF – other ISPs decide to use Fibrus’ network.

    2. Jb1 says:

      It is an open network that other ISPs can choose to use, just as they choose to use Openreach’s network.

    3. Dialup says:

      Thanks for the replies. That’s good news Jb1, and what I thought/was hoping would be the case.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thier wholesale pricing is incredibly expensive, so any isp would have to sell at a higher price. They do not sell on similar terms to openreach! Not even close.

  4. Bob says:

    Have you checked the Openreach FTTP pricing? Incredibly expensive is a bit of a stretch, there is not much difference in the access costs between the two? If you then consider with Openreach you have to unbundle all their FTTP handoff exchanges, buy all of the associated GEA Cablelinks and build a backhaul network to link all of these together.

    If you want a like for like comparison you should be comparing a wholesale service such as BT Wholesale who will backhaul all the traffic and handoff to a designated interconnect point.

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